Staying overnight and eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant is a real treat. We checked in at Baslow Hall hoping for a romantic anniversary dinner and we weren’t disappointed. The hotel is a small country house set in a beautifully tended garden on the edge of Baslow village. The location is nice as Baslow is just five minutes from the Chatsworth Estate and in lovely countryside. As we approached from the car park at around 2.30pm you could see four or five chefs working preparing in the kitchen ready for dinner service.
We had a room in the old house which was more traditionally furnished than the new Garden Annexe. It was decorated in light colours and had a magnificent window overlooking the garden. The bed was fantastically comfortable. the bathroom was newly fitted out and had a really powerful shower, great cosmetics – and a lovely view over the pine forest. There was a good choice of teas and coffees, ground coffee for a cafetiere and some freshly baked biscuits – I was slightly surprised we weren’t offered fresh milk as an option.
Before dinner we strolled out into Baslow and sat by the river watching the ducks underneath the bridge and a fly fisherman catching trout – very relaxing on a sunny evening. When we went back to the house we had a look around the gardens which are colourful, well tended but also practical with lots of ingredients being harvested for the restaurant.
Max Fischer set up the restaurant having worked around Europe and cooking for royalty. His head chef Rupert Rowley has cooked in a number of Michelin starred restaurants and Fischer’s has held one Michelin star for ten years.
The menu for the restaurant is set out with either the tasting menu or a three course dinner costing £72 and an option with having a wine with each course on the tasting menu for £120. We both went for the tasting menu and substituted the rose veal for grouse. The menu had nine courses but before we went in we had some amuse bouche – a fantastic cloche filled with wood smoke contained some confit of duck or game with a jelly coating, there some small cornets containing shellfish and some wasabi nuts – all excellent. I apologise that I am guessing at some ingredients as they weren’t necessarily on the menu description and this is complicated food.
The breads were very good – a basil and sun dried tomato bread, sourdough and a treacle and ale bread
The first course was exquisitely prepared but disappointing for me – a pea mousse with tamarind granita had some hot lobster consomme poured over and for me the flavours didn’t work – I’m not a big fan of tamarind and I though it overpowered the lobster and the pea.
The next was a tempura of quail breast. The quail was cooked perfectly and after being wrapped in spinach or seaweed it had a fine crispy batter to give some crunch. It was served with some darker meat or mushroom terrine and a pine nut puree along with some tasty grains and seeds. I thought this was one of the standout courses.
Next up was a tasty tomato and mozzarella dish with a tomato jelly with superb flavour. The mozzarella was served in small cubes – beautiful presentation
The crab and bloody mary cannelloni with lime and lemon grass snow was possibly the best thing on the menu. The cannelloni (using a bloody mary jelly as the wrapping was so fresh tasting and it was served with an intensely flavoured crab sorbet which was magnificent. The whole thing had a wonderful clean and fresh taste.
Then came pork jowl served with a small piece of pork and some delicate scratchings – all very tasty. It was served with a really good Pinot Noir
The grouse was an optional swap-in the menu and it tasted beautiful. Again presentation was terrific with well cooked accompanying vegetables. I can’t remember which but one of the meats had a small tower of potato which was very tasty.
There was then a white chocolate mousse with a lemony flavoured granita and some ribbons of cucumber over which was poured some cucumber puree. It worked terrifically and looked a treat. I’m not a fan of Reisling generally but the wine option off the tasting menu worked really well with this.
The main pudding feature was a log of chocolate stuffed with a chocolate mousse and a beautiful lime and dark chocolate sorbet – all served on a nicely salty “soil”. Again the dessert wine choice was terrific.
We ended up with a taste of the garden with angelica, a violet foam, lemon balm and elderflower – a very light and aromatic dish served with Montbazillac.
The whole thing from sitting down to order was around three leisurely hours and thoroughly enjoyable. It may seem expensive but to me it is performance like going to see a West End show.
We had a great night’s sleep on the excellent bed and then came down to a fine breakfast. The sun was shining and the garden’s looked terrific. Highlights off the breakfast buffet was homemade granola, fresh honeycomb, freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice to order, really good bread for toast, loose leaf tea, good quality coffee (essential for my breakfast), and top notch sausages.
All in all, the overnight stay was a lovely way to celebrate a special occasion. I liked the relaxed atmosphere and the setting was beautiful. I want to try a Sunday lunch there now.