Restaurant review: Hambleton Hall

By Tim Burke

Hambleton Hall has long been one of the brightest stars in Leicestershire and Rutland’s food scene, but does its ‘Lunch For Less’ offer really offer the full Michelin Star experience?

It most definitely does. Settling down in the drawing room, we enjoyed three stunning canapés, the standout being a surprising but exquisite beetroot meringue sandwiched with goat’s cheese. As we pushed on to the meal itself, we started to marvel at the depth and complexity of flavours from seemingly simple dishes. A well-made pea soup is always pleasing, but the composite layers of flavour in the pea and mint velouté here took it to a different level. What’s more, such brilliance was just background to a chunky, meaty and moist raviolo of diced ham hock.

Blade of beef may not be a premium cut, but here it was chopped and rolled with a variety of wonderfully fresh herbs and wild mushrooms to stunning effect. Its accompanying sweet, sticky reduction of red wine, caramelised shallot and tarragon almost had me licking the plate. Even a rank-and-file fish like coley was transformed into something approaching a delicacy.

For dessert, a technically superb soufflé wobbled invitingly, its pillowy softness disguising strong but well-balanced flavours of coconut and lime.

Squadrons of staff glided around the room with grace, subtle skill and great attention to detail, and the dining room exudes old- school country house luxury.

On all levels Hambleton Hall is a pleasure and, at lunch time at least, you might find it a surprisingly affordable treat.

Hambleton Hall

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Cuisine: Modern British/European
Price per head: Lunch For Less: £22/27.25 for two/three courses
Kids welcome? Over-fives in the main dining room
Dogs: Hotel yes, restaurant no
Car parking: Car park in the grounds
Food times: Mon-Sun: 12-1.30pm, 7-9.30pm. Lunch for Less: Mon-Sat, excluding Bank Holiday weekends.

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Menu samples
Lunch For Less: £27.25 for three courses

Starters
Ballotine of guinea fowl with piccalilli
Raviolo of ham hock with pea and mint velouté

Mains
Pan fried fillet of coley, saffron potatoes, tomatoes, green beans
Blade of beef, rosti, red wine sauce

Desserts
Coconut and lime soufflé with coconut sorbet
Lemon tart with raspberries

Tim Burke
The author:

Leicestershire editor Tim lives in Leicester has been a journalist for 30 years, and over the last 12 years he has been restaurant critic for Metro, Great Food Club and the Leicester Mercury. He is also author of 2016 publication The Leicestershire and Rutland Cookbook.