Well I couldn’t wait to tell you about my new find Park House Hotel although it’s been a couple of weeks since my visit. It’s another place I cycle past often and have noticed the hotel over the years but didn’t realise it was a spa and that they did lunch, afternoon teas and dinner for non-residents.
We happened to see an advert for Park House Hotel in West Dean’s community magazine whilst we were enjoying cake and coffee at West Dean Stores and Tearooms – now that’s another place I really must write a review on.
I took my sister Gill along and we were most impressed as soon as we walked through to the restaurant. The main room is very nicely decorated, all the tables were neatly laid and a lovely huge vase of fresh flowers were by the window.
We walked through an arch and found ourselves in a light and airy room with windows all around. It was a rather gloomy November day but for just a little while the sun shone down on the righteous us.
The staff were very friendly and helpful as I asked several questions. I mentioned the offer which was on at the time, a free glass of house wine when you booked in advance. We both chose the Merlot.
Whilst we were waiting for our meals we were given a basket of fresh warm granary bread rolls, I’m guessing home-made. These were very nice and went down a treat, although we didn’t want to get too full we couldn’t stop ourselves from polishing them all off.
We were each given a small teacup and saucer with a fantastic tasting white onion soup as an amuse-bouche. It was SO good I would have loved to have had a whole bowl of it as a starter, I didn’t want it to end. We looked at each other with our eyes wide open in amazement and went ‘mmmmm’.
There was a good choice on the menu but for starter we decided to share. We ordered the John Dorey dish and the duck confit.
Both dishes were beautifully presented. The John Dorey was lying on a bed of red pepper sauce with samphire and shimeji mushrooms. I’m not a fish lover as regular readers will know but I am trying to be adventurous and brave.
My favourite of the two dishes was the duck confit, no surprises there. With layers of different textures it was very tasty.
We both went for the belly pork for our main, I can’t resist it. On the plate were several kinds of belly pork including pulled pork in light crispy breadcrumbs, a circular piece of pork had some black pudding in the centre, one with very small pieces of pulled pork with peppers and wrapped in a cabbage leaf making it look like a large Brussels sprout. With this was a nice long piece of crackling, parsnips, kale and some chunks of caramelised apple.
A little jug of gravy was on the side so you could have as much or as little as you wanted.
With the main dishes we were served more bread, this time spiced. I couldn’t pinpoint any of the spices and it wasn’t surprising as there were so many of them, Pink Peppercorns, Cloves, Coriander, Cardamon, Ginger, Orange, Honey and Cinnamon.
We shared our desserts. We went for the apple tart fine served with cinnamon ice-cream.
I’m not really an appley kind of person but this was lovely. Wafer thin slices of apple with the skin on were arranged on a circular piece of light filo pastry, a blob of cinnamon ice cream was in the centre and delicious toffee sauce was drizzled all over. We were a bit disappointed in the rather small helping of the ice cream, however it was rather tasty.
Not a dessert as such but cheese with an excellent selection of pretty cheese biscuits. I asked what the cheeses were and was given a laminated sheet with the names and country of origin of the cheeses.
The cheeses were all lovely and the biscuits were very nice too, some with poppy, pumpkin and sesame seeds, a sweet one and a lovely dark grey heart-shaped one. It’s little touches like these that you remember. They did however, forget the chutney. It was written on the menu that it came with it but to be truthful I didn’t notice until I was at home dreaming about my lunch.
Of course we couldn’t finish off our meals without a coffee – with chocolates!
We retired into the drawing room which was really very nice again. Lots of low chairs and tables for afternoon tea, it was so cosy it was like being in someone’s home – a millionaire’s home, alas not like mine at all.
The coffee was served in a nice silver pot with hot milk. The chocolates were lovely and melted very nicely.
One was a mint chocolate, the white chocolate was my favourite. The centres were smooth and soft.
I’m going to take Helen there possibly for afternoon tea when she returns from her travels – which is on Friday! I’m so excited, we haven’t seen each other for over 8 months. I honestly can’t wait to go back to Park House Hotel, be it for lunch, dinner or afternoon tea, it was that good.
Return? Definitely a yes! See all the updates below!
Living life, loving cake
UPDATE: January 2019
We visit Park House Hotel several times a year (alas, not to stay overnight), and we love the relaxing ambience of the place.
Today we went back for the set lunch offer. It was a good price, £20 for three courses. I was a little chilly in the conservatory and always have been to be honest, I had to make Geoff run out to the car to get my old scruffy gym fleece which really didn’t go with what I had on. They probably thought I was ‘riff-raff’ 😀
Funnily enough we made the same comment about the ice-cream as we did last time, that the portion was very small. It didn’t taste of cinnamon whatsoever, nor like anything really, and what was going on with the horrid lurid green sprinkly bits on our desserts?
Our best visit yet and one which we still talk about was when we stayed overnight and had an evening meal and wine tasting with Hennings, that was an excellent evening, one we’ve been hoping they’d repeat but haven’t yet.
The chocolates which came with the coffee were ok, Geoff couldn’t have one as they were mint – what a shame, I had to eat them both – they were spearmint, which was rather unusual.
Service was a little non-engaging on this particular visit, however I did find out later that they’d had a staff night out last night so perhaps they were all suffering a little.
UPDATE 26/3/2017: This week I have been terribly spoilt. On Thursday evening we went to the wine-tasting evening along with a 3-course meal. The wine-tasting was hosted by local wine merchants, Hennings and our favourite wine of the evening was in no doubt the Aragonia Garnacha Especial 2013 (which sadly isn’t on the hotel’s wine list but is available from Hennings). We had a great evening and stayed overnight in the hotel as they had a good deal which included breakfast. We could also use their swimming pool and spa facilities which I did whilst Geoff played golf on their little course.
A while back Geoff had booked Mother’s Day lunch which was set to take place a mere two days later and we took his parents. We had a lovely meal along with a bottle of Sottano Malbec 2015 which again, was from the wine-tasting evening and is on the list. The staff are all very friendly, helpful and attentive. We can’t wait to go back!
Here’s a few more photo’s –
UPDATE: November 2016.
Helen and I returned along with my sister back in December 2015 for afternoon tea which we had served in the beautiful lounge sat next to a roaring fire and Christmas tree. What a treat we had, plenty of lovely sandwiches and sweet treats and copious cups of tea, pity I can’t find the photo’s to show you though! We paid another visit to Park House in November 2016 for my mother-in-law’s birthday where we had lunch. Again, it was very nice, the staff were pleasant and it’s definitely a place I would like to go again and again. Here’s the photo from November 2016 –