Doddington Hall, Doddington
I thoroughly enjoy tasting menus and of the many I have now tried, one thing is sure: they are a showcase for each chef’s distinctive style. What would Doddington Hall’s Saturday Seven say about their kitchen?
Many readers will be familiar with the daytime menus of the restaurant and café but at weekends the restaurant is open in the evening for Fish Fridays and Saturday Seven. An à la carte option is also available on these evenings but when you book, the whole table must order one menu or the other.
We were shown straight to our table where we ordered pre-dinner drinks while we read through the courses served on the August Saturday Seven menu. The menu changes at the beginning of each month but it was clear that this was going to be a substantial amount of food. Our waitress assured us that we could ask for a pause at any time to pace ourselves. With all decisions from this point out of our hands, we had chance to concentrate on our conversation. This style of eating is very convivial and everyone around us had the same thought, as there was a real buzz of chatter and laughter from nearby tables.
The early courses are presented on a single plate or platter with two portions which are then plated by the diners. The crockery and appropriate cutlery were already laid at our place setting.
To start, a platter of homemade bread, olives and kitchen garden dips were served. Doddington changes its menu to make the most of the abundant produce which is grown in its own kitchen garden. The dips were a very tasty garlic with hummus and secondly a blend of courgette and aubergine.
The next dish was a kitchen garden tomato and cucumber gazpacho with iced horseradish. What a very refreshing idea for a warm summer’s evening; very light yet with a delicate depth of flavour.
A fish course followed, of poached sea trout served with Russian salad and Lincolnshire rapeseed oil. This was one of the outstanding dishes of the menu for me. Soft and succulent fish with a mayonnaise bound salad of new potato, grated carrot and fresh garden peas.
The fourth course was a spiced bean salad, with coriander yoghurt and toasted sesame seeds. This was served with bruschetta. This would have made a very substantial vegetarian lunch in it own right and for my appetite a smaller portion would have sufficed. Needless to say, it did not seem to be a problem for diners around us to clear their plates.
We definitely needed to accept that offer of a break between courses at this point but it gave us chance to refill our glasses and anticipate the Doddington Herd steaks which were our next dish. The quality and flavour of this own estate Lincoln Red Cattle beef is outstanding and both our steaks were cooked perfectly to our order. Served with wilted chard, an assortment of roasted heritage potatoes and red wine jus, this was a simple but highly satisfying main course.
The service was friendly and efficient with each dish explained to us as it was served. I was driving so could not sample the wine list any further than my spritzer but rest assured there is an excellent range of wines available.
We now had not one but two desserts to finish the meal. The first was a cherry clafoutis served with clotted cream. Homegrown cherries were a perfect tangy complement to the rich batter filling and cream.
The final course was a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Described on the menu as Kitchen Garden berries, this was a trio of desserts: a berry sorbet, raspberry mousse and berry compote. Quite a showstopper to end our Saturday Seven.
For me Doddington’s style not only shows the skills of the kitchen but also their ability to hold back and let the flavour and quality of the ingredients shine for themselves.
The Saturday Seven certainly illustrates the Doddington philosophy of estate to the plate plus the imaginative and versatile dishes accomplished from one month of the Kitchen Garden’s harvest.