Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Whitebrook Restaurant and Rooms @ Monmouthshire, Wales

Cuisine: British
Charged Price: GBP50 per person
Visited: 28 June 2015
Food: 8/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Value for money: 8/10
Services: 9/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

I am usually one who enjoys experiencing and dining in a unique restaurant out of city where it is less crowded and less well-known. The Whitebrook near Monmouth is another interesting one in Wales. It offers both excellent dining experience and calm environment. Personally, I felt that this is a wonderful place to visit in Wales. Food was crafted with care and service was friendly and attentive. The Whitebrook is not just a restaurant in countryside but it is as well a boutique hotel. I would say it should be nice staying at The Whitebrook if you are going to be in the area. Trekking, relaxing, and visiting farms around the area should be a wonderful break.

Walking into the restaurant, we were firstly welcome at the reception area where small bites and aperitif could be enjoyed. Once the table had been prepared, we were introduced to the table. The Whitebrook is just a small restaurants with about 5 tables each in two connected rooms. Though it is just a small place, each table is arranged with comfortable gap. The place is decorated neatly in white tone, yet opulent. The kind of cuisine here is rather classic with many ingredients can be found locally. Wine list is appropriately extensive. It is arranged in character types rather by region. As for the marked up, I would say it is moderately high: around 2 - 3 times retail price.

The Whitebrook Restaurant and Rooms @ Monmouthshire, Wales

beautiful restaurant and hotel in mountain

cosy reception

plain but nice dining room

For Sunday lunch, it was priced at GBP35.00 for a 3-courses meal (3 choices for each course). The meal kicked off with a small portion of amuse bouche (9/10). It was velvety carrot mousse topped with sweet, fresh, and crisp shaves of carrot. There was also chicken crisp that boosted contrast on the palate. The final touch was radish flowers that gave spices touch. As for bread, there were two choices of in-house made: white and brown. Both were delicious with soft touch.

small bites while waiting to be seated

amuse bouche

For the first course, we went for Asparagus Mousse, Monmouthshire Ham, Young Herbs & Flowers (8/10) and Goat's Cheese Fondant, Beetroot, Rye, Walnuts (8/10). The asparagus mousse was really tender and soft on the bite. The other vegetable components on the plate gave crispiness and freshness of the forest. Monmouthshire ham, on the other hand, brought balance with rich taste to the dish. To pair with this dish, I had asked the sommelier for an opinion and Trimbach Muscat Reserve 2013 (89/100, GBP8.75 per glass) was the choice. It is an unoaked dry muscat with highly perfumed character. On the palate, it showed bright acid and minerality with citrus notes. Nice one with asparagus. For goat cheese, its character was totally opposite of the asparagus dish. It was rich but tender. I like the way beetroots balanced out the heavy structure of goat cheese. In my opinion, a glass of sweet wine would go nicely with this rich starter.

Asparagus Mousse, Monmouthshire Ham, Young Herbs & Flowers

Goat's Cheese Fondant, Beetroot, Rye, Walnuts

Trimbach Muscat Reserve 2013

Moving on to main courses, I had Huntsham Farm Suckling Pig, Potato Puree, Turnip, Beer Pickled Onion (8/10) whilst Deadly Bunny had Ryeland Lamb, Hotpot Potato, Violet Artichoke, Orache (9/10). They both were excellent but lamb dish was a bit finer. The overall picture of suckling pig was lovely and enjoyable with fresh and crisp turnip and sweet beer pickled onion that matched opulent and rich suckling pig well. Croquet was, in contrast, crisp and complex. Mashed potato alongside was wonderfully smooth and creamy. The missing point for me was a touch of over saltiness and a little bit overcooked of suckling, even though it was tender and juicy.

For lamb, it was rich and classic. It was just so tender and juicy such that meat came off easily with just a light touch of fork. The grilled artichoke and potato were great matches. Orache gave the unique flavour to the dish. To me, it felt like pak meang or gnetum gnenom which can be locally found in the southern part of Thailand. The chosen red wine for the main course was Badenhorst Family Wines Secateurs Red Blend 2012 (88/100, GBP8.75 per glass). This is a blend of Cinsault, Shiraz , Grenache, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinotage. It was fresh with layers of black fruits and spices. Secateurs 2012 is medium-full on the body and is ready for drinking now. A nice table wine, I would say.

Huntsham Farm Suckling Pig, Potato Puree, Turnip, Beer Pickled Onion

Ryeland Lamb, Hotpot Potato, Violet Artichoke, Orache

Badenhorst Family Wines Secateurs Red Blend 2012

Just before the final course, a small portion of pre-dessert was served: Velvet Parfait (10/10). It was such a highly perfumed ice-cream of violet flowers: so creamy and smooth. It was served along with elderflower meringue and rose jelly. It was another "love at first bit" for me.

For finale, two different characters of dessert were picked. One was Lemon, Apple Fizz, Elderflower Tintern Mead (9/10) and the other was Local Strawberries, Woodland Sorrel, Oats, Caramelised Almonds (9/10). The lemon mousse was almost perfect. So soft on the touch and yet creamy. Citrus note of lemon paired simultaneously with apple compote and freshness of elderflower. It was like I was walking in a spring garden on a good warm day. On the other hand, the strawberry dessert was more punchy with crunchiness of caramelised almond, smooth sorrel ice-cream, and fresh strawberry. It was more like walking in a forest during a mild shower day for this dish. Anyway, both were fabulous.

Lastly, a small bites of nettle macaron was brought to end the meal. Needless to say much, this is a place to return for me. If I have a chance to be back in the area, I would not hesitate making my journey to The Whitebrook at all. By the way, it can be a bit tedious reaching The Whitebrook. I would suggest lunch time meal rather than dinner if you are not staying around the place as you will need to drive for sure. Roads around the place are narrow and are dark in the evening.

Velvet Parfait

Lemon, Apple Fizz, Elderflower Tintern Mead

Local Strawberries, Woodland Sorrel, Oats, Caramelised Almonds

The Whitebrook Restaurant and Rooms @ Monmouthshire, Wales
Whitebrook (near Monmouth)
NP25 4TX
United Kingdom

Open Hours: daily except Monday from 12:00pm - 02:00pm for lunch and 07:00pm - 09:00pm for dinner

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