Oaklands Hall Hotel, Laceby
Caroline Bingham visited the Oaklands Hall Hotel at Laceby.
The hotel is located within five acres of private parkland and the sweeping drive certainly added an element of expectation to our arrival at the Victorian country house entrance of the building.
The Oaklands Hall Hotel has recently undergone a £450,000 renovation and refurbishment by its local owners, cleverly maintaining its most charming period features with a contemporary layout and style.
The Comfy Duck is described as a bistro by the hotel and there is a choice of two spacious, contemporary dining rooms. The feel is very comfortable, with soft textured fabrics, a choice of banquettes or chaired seating, and is atmospherically lit for added intimacy.
The menu certainly includes bistro style dishes but like the dining room, this menu punches above this weight and includes fine dining options.
I always like a chef who isn’t afraid to proclaim the locally sourced credentials of produce and there is a whole page dedicated to them in the front of the Comfy Duck’s. Fish from Oscar Cleve, beef from Kirk’s of Skegness, Stokes of Lincoln coffee, ice cream from Dennett’s of Spilsby, Cote Hill Blue Cheese – I cannot list them all, but it reads as a potted ‘Who’s Who’ of the best Lincolnshire suppliers.
While we were still deciding what to order, an amuse-bouche was served of smoked salmon pâté on a delicately thin crostini. It was very delicious.
My choice of starter was a hot baked scotch egg served with crispy baked herb soldiers and a micro cress salad. My friend chose toasted goat’s cheese and cranberry relish on a cranberry ciabatta base with a rocket salad.
Both dishes were beautifully presented. My scotch egg was served in an egg cup ready for dipping the light and crisp soldiers into the runny yolk. Great fun, very tasty and such a nostalgic favourite too. The goat’s cheese was creamy and teamed perfectly with the sharpness of the cranberries. There were eight other appetisers including a signature chicken liver and smoked bacon pâté, smoked haddock and leek fish cake and poppy seeded sea bass served with Japanese style coleslaw and chilli oil.
I hadn’t realised it but I had chosen another of the hotel’s signature dishes for my main course – The Comfy Duck. A honey glazed duck breast and confit duck leg served with a potato fondant, a rich cherry and port glaze and vegetables. My fellow diner went for the bistro classic, fillet beef stroganoff, served with rice and garlic bread.
The Cherry Valley sourced duck breast was supremely tender, slighty pink and packed with flavour. The confit leg could have been slightly crispier but I think this was because this was a very plump duck. There was just enough cherry and port glaze not to overpower or cloy the meat and this was a classic, autumnal dish, well executed.
The stroganoff fillet strips were beautifully tender and again my companion gave her verdict that this was an excellent delivery of a dish that can so easily disappoint if quality ingredients are not used and it is overcooked.
There were eleven other choices on the mains menu as well as a choice of steaks from the grill. Local cask ale beer battered haddock is served with minted pea puree and triple cooked thyme and Maldon salted chips; pan seared hake supreme wrapped in prosciutto ham and served with spring onion mashed potato and pea veloute had also been tempting.
For dessert, it was time for my fellow diner to choose the signature dish – a baked Alaska with chocolate sponge topped with vanilla ice cream encased in warm meringue and served with rich chocolate sauce. I opted for the key lime pie, with citrus sauce and vanilla ice cream. Both were a picture on the plate, delicious on the palate and served with a piece of theatre in a swirl of dry ice mist and aroma of lemons.
The dining rooms had been busy with guests dining alongside us and more still were taking their seats.
Before we left we looked at the hotel’s elegant function room and lounge. I could see why it is also building a name locally as a wedding and conference venue. Great location, beautiful grounds, excellent food and service – all comfortably within your reach.