Tucked away on the England-Wales border, on the outskirts of Bristol, is dainty Berwick Lodge – a lesser-known quaint hotel with a few elegant guest-rooms, romantic cosy fireplace adorned bar, and, importantly, 2 AA rosette restaurant Hattusa. This homely yet sumptuous space, embellished with pretty furnishings and various views onto majestic grounds, is a restaurant to escape to for a few hours of restful yet decadent dining.
Open for lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner, the restaurant champions a local British produce menu, focussing on the best that Bristol has to offer as well as harking back to more traditional country fare. It is fairly extensive yet not overwhelming, offering a wide range of small plates that include the likes of Salt Baked Beetroot with Bulgur Wheat, Fennel, and Burrata, Smoked Salmon Bagel, Toulouse Sausage, a Charcuterie Platter, and even a Duck Rilette. The large plates are similarly varied, with everything from Fish and Chips, to Steak and Beef Burger, as well as sundried tomato Pesto Linguine and a Risotto. In essence there is something for everyone here, creating the sense that this is a fine dining space set on welcoming its diners.
My guest and I chose the tasting menu, which priced at £65 per head for 6 courses, showed exceptional value. Whilst she had the vegetarian version (a refreshing offering, given the notorious difficulty of finding vegetarian dishes in certain restaurants), I had the main option. We each began with the bread basket, which offered two delicious varieties – a moist, Guinness bread and a slightly tangy, wasabi loaf. Both were fantastic and inevitably, the bread fiend that I am, we had multiple helpings. The menu began with an Amuse Bouche, which was for both, an elegant serving of seemingly jellied beetroot with a crispy vegetable base. Refreshing and pleasantly flavoursome, this was a welcome start. The first course, for me, and what would be a later course on the vegetarian menu, was a Slow Cooked Egg with Capers, Gnocchi, Truffle and Bread Crumbs. Whilst my guest felt the bread crumbs were unnecessary – the dish was wonderfully creamy and indulgent – I enjoyed the crunch that they added to the melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi and hedonistic truffle. This was probably my favourite and I would have welcomed a larger serving as a main. My guest meanwhile had a Miso Artichoke with Sesame Tofu Dressing, Fermented Kohlrabi, Pickled Pear, Salted Cucumber that she loved, the asian spin on a vegetable dish proving both interesting and incredibly moreish.
The second course was a dainty portion of Duck Foie Gras with Corchon, A la Greckue Vegetables, Brioche and Verjus. The foie gras’ richness, combined with the buttery brioche, was pleasantly balanced by the slightly crunchy and zesty vegetables, ensuring this dish was a success. The third dish, a Curried Monkfish with Carrots, Chard, and Cashews, was a wonderful affair of exotic flavours with tender yet meaty fish that I thoroughly enjoyed. Its presentation was also very pretty, the chard caressing the monkfish into a bed of delicious green, with cashew nuts sprinkled upon both from above. My guest meanwhile had a pleasing zestful course of Avocado, Bulgur wheat, Fennel and Lemon, the bitter yet balanced citrus flavours rendering it a satiating palette cleanser.
The fourth course, was a elegant Roasted Loin of Venison served in its typical manner with Red Cabbage, Salsify and Shallots. Whilst not normally a fan of Venison, this was surprisingly mild in flavour, lean, and pleasantly complimented by the creaminess of the sauce. I thoroughly enjoyed this, much to my surprise. The vegetarian option was a rendition of my first course, the slow cooked egg, but this time with larger, and served with Brown Butter Mash, Truffle, and Savoury Crumb.
Though full by this point, there was a refreshing pre-dessert ice-cream course that galvanised our appetites for more food – but this time sweet. My guest being a dessert fan had the two desserts on the menu (the tasting menu comes with two), a Apple and Frangipane Tart served with Apple Sorbet and Biscotti Crumb, that we thoroughly enjoyed together, and a Passion Fruit and Mango dish of Chocolate Brownie, Mango Sorbet, Meringue and White Chocolate Ganache. I chose the Cheese Board, being more inclined to finish on a savoury note, which featured a solid range of cheeses and crackers. A tried and tested classic, this was a lovely end to our meal. To drink throughout, I started with a wonderfully zesty and vibrant Sauvignon Blanc, Yealands, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, 2016, and finished on a viscous and robust red of Timperosse, Mandrarossa, from Sicily, Italy, 2014.
The tasting menu proved delicious and filling, featuring easily pleasing dishes presented beautifully and classically. It would be hard to fault the food: Berwick Lodge demonstrated itself to be a classic English hotel offering the best of Britain, all whilst flirting with the Welsh mountains in its horizon, and all in all a thoroughly delicious stay-cation on this Isle.