by Katarina Polonsky

In the heart of the glorious grounds of Stoke Park Hotel and Spa, is Humphry’s restaurant, a fantastic multi-award winning fine dining Modern British cuisine restaurant. Headed up by chef Chris Wheeler for the past fourteen years, it boasts 3 AA Rosettes as well as the award of ‘Five AA Red Stars’ in 2013 – the highest accolade a hotel can gain. It is at this beautiful fine dining establishment that my guest and I retired to for a languorous evening meal after a joyous day of enjoying the gorgeous grounds and luxury spa of Stoke Park.

Humphry’s offers a generous a la carte lunch and dinner menu, as well as a set three course dinner menu special. The cuisine is essentially the best of British gourmet dining with a modern twist (think stone bass with lemongrass dumplings and roast cauliflower with apple and coconut), whilst the interior is a beautiful extension of all that Stoke Park does best: it is a grand dining hall, with high ceilings, plush traditional furniture, an open fireplace, huge windows panoramically overlooking the grand grounds, and a sense of opulence that overwhelms the dining experience with a sense of luxury.

Seated by the lovely roaring fire, my guest and I enjoyed a glass of the Ochagavia Silvestre, Sauvignon Blanc, Chile, 2016, as we perused the somewhat short and to the point, British, menu. To start, we enjoyed an amuse bouche of homemade Taramasalata dip, and then a red pepper hummus with crunchy, baked, spinach tortilla crisps, as well as spoons of smoked duck with orange gel, and a flavoursome torched mackerel with an avocado and wasabi puree. The flavours were clean and loud, strong in their simplicity, which made plain the exceptional quality of the raw ingredients. There was also a deliciously crispy and flavoursome small slice of toasted sourdough bread on a foamy dip with toasted pinenuts that we enjoyed whilst deciding on our starters. The bread basket, that came around was similarly wonderful and offered a range of warm, fresh rolls.

For the starter, I had the sea trout which came gin cured, with avocado and wasabi puree, capers, horseradish and rye bread crisp. Presented immaculately, this was a delicate dish of more lovely fresh, clean flavours. My guest meanwhile had the slightly larger, and perhaps more interesting dish, of ham hock and foie gras, which came as a beautiful terrine with salt-baked pineapple, quail’s egg, game chips, pineapple and chilli. The flavours were interesting and compelling, rendering the dish incredibly moreish.

My guest chose the Beef, a fillet of Brookfield Farm beef served with oxtail and marmite ragout, shallot puree, girolles, bone marrow crumb, and red wine jus. Cooked to oozy, soft and juicy medium rare bliss, this was a pleasing dish for both of us to try. Meanwhile, I had the roast cod loin, which was a perfectly presented dish of roast cod fin a bowl of mussel and clam chowder, served with pancetta chard leeks and squid ink gnocchetti. The cod was succulent and tender, with the delicate emulsion complementing it beautifully. The black squid ink gnocchetti was a interestingly crispy and fluffy taste and texture that added a satisfying crunch to the soft cod. A very, very lovely combination.

As sides, though we really didn’t need them, we had a lovely bowl of soft and creamy potatoes with another bowl of roasted vegetables. The satisfying main portions however, made these rather more as add-ons, than sides.

Full and satisfied, we perused the dessert menu whilst another pre-dessert amuse bouche and palate cleanser appeared under our noses. A small and quaint glass of sorbet like cream, with a berry compote on top, this triggered our sweet palate and prepared us for another course (though again, we really didn’t need it). I chose the cheese board, whilst my guest opted for the fromage frais cheesecake. The cheeses were fantastic, a classic range of the best of British and French cheeses served with fresh figs, grapes, fig relish, and fresh, warm, crusty bread and crackers. Absolutely magnificent. My guest’s dessert was equally impressive, if not more so, given its unexpectedly delightful flavour combinations. This was a lovely fromage frais cheesecake served with vanilla poached figs, hazelnut crumble, hazelnut ice cream, blackberry meringue, and blackberry and violet sauce.

Full and satisfied, we finished our sumptuous meal by retiring to the fireplace by the bar for a closing glass of wine in our comfy armchairs. We had a magnificent meal at Humphry’s and are both pleased to highly recommend it to all those looking for a first class meal in glorious surroundings.

Park Road
Stoke Poges

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