Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa
Caroline Bingham visited Woodhall Spa to dine in the characterful and elegant surroundings of the Petwood Hotel restaurant.
The Petwood had a real air of anticipation on the midweek evening we visited. It was just two days prior to the Woodhall Spa 40s Festival and the village as well as the hotel was getting into the ‘swing’ ready for the visitors who flock to this annual event.
We may have been quite early taking our seats at our table but we were soon joined by many more diners who looked as though they were making more than a long weekend of their stay. The Petwood and Woohall Spa make a perfect backdrop for this event and although we had come along in the spirit of Eat for Victory there was certainly no rationing where our meal was concerned.
The menu acknowledges the bountifulness and quality of Lincolnshire produce and includes locally sourced produce in every dish; from fruit and vegetables and locally sourced free range eggs to freshly caught fish from Grimsby.
There was a choice of seven starters including smoked trout mousse with pea puree, pea shoots and beetroot; pressed terrine of chicken and pigeon with roasted red peppers; deep fried ham hock and potato croquettes with a grain mustard enhanced with red wine dressing as well as heritage tomatoes with a basil cheesecake or pan fried scallops with a lemongrass and ginger veloute. This was a sophisticated group from which to choose but finally my companion opted for a creamy cauliflower soup, served with a baby Poacher Cheese soufflé and cauliflower crisp, while I had a salad of watermelon, blue cheese and walnuts with a red wine dressing.
The soup was poured from a jug at the table around the soufflé which gave a nice touch of theatre to the course. I was told that it was full of flavour and worked perfectly with the tang from the cheese soufflé. My watermelon was perfectly ripened giving a sweet contrast to the creamy blue cheese and the bite of the chopped walnuts; a perfect summer starter for me.
The main course menu was even more substantial with ten dishes on offer. Two choices of fish; sea trout or lemon sole fillets (£1 supplement); plenty for meat lovers including a bacon chop, pan fried chicken breast, lamb with rosemary dauphinoise, calves liver served with a Dijon mustard and tarragon mash plus pan fried duck breast or a sirloin steak (£5.50 supplement). There were also two vegetarian courses beginning with a wild mushroom lasagne or the option my fellow diner went for, the charred pepper tower served with couscous, rocket and a fresh Provençale sauce. I opted for the grilled sea trout supreme with a saffron and crab risotto. Both our main courses were beautifully presented. Colourful and appetising on the plate, they certainly delivered on the palate also.
We had chance to thank our waiting staff at this point, who had been most friendly and efficient, inviting us to begin our meal with a choice of fresh mini loaves and keeping us stocked with water and drinks.
We did succumb to the dessert menu, too, which included a seared orange pudding cake served with a naked coconut ‘bounty’ and dark chocolate sauce; a chocolate croissant pudding with whisky flavoured custard with clotted cream; a chilled strawberry soup with a balsamic drizzle or a Lincolnshire inspired cheese board or a selection of frozen ice creams or sorbets. We chose caramel apple tarte Tatin served with a raw apple sorbet for me and chocolate chip brownie with walnuts, and pistachios served on a salted caramel sauce with peanut butter tuile and white chocolate ice cream for my friend. They both made an indulgent and delicious way to end our meal.
I really enjoyed this cooking which has a light, contemporary touch while still being generous with portions. The Petwood has all the character and atmosphere worthy of its illustrious heritage but the kitchen is delivering quality dishes for today.