Sunday, August 31, 2008

Broadway brings us to the GREAT HALL at the Lygon Arms (Cotswolds,UK)

Our last night in the Cotswolds found us at the LYGON ARMS Hotel, an historic property that has actually always been an inn for almost 500 years. It is indeed a remarkable property, although its recent change of hands thrice in five years may have put the dining room called the GREAT HALL into a slightly tenuous state.

The staff is attentive (and huge, as is the room), and the huge curved vaulted ceiling and walk in fireplace do lend a very old feel, although we were told this was a 20th century addition to the hotel! Apparently the stuffed animal heads that once adorned with upper wall are gone forever, now replaced with lots of mirrors which we did not care for (as you look up, you keep seeing yourself). The chairs are big and comfy and the tables are large, if a bit close (a gentleman next to me clearly had on WAY too much cologne). We were shocked that no amuse came, and the bread was standard and not warm.

We started with a bottle of BAY of FIRES "Tigress" SAUVIGNON BLANC from Tasmania as in the past we have enjoyed some great Tasmanian wines while in the UK. This was no exception with a huge gooseberry nose and even taste at first then moving into citrus and lemon. We also had some fun comparing bottled waters. The Great Hall's regular is the British BLENHEIM and it has a very steely taste when we compared it to our favorite, the French BADOIT, which is softer and also has a bit less gas.

Will's SMOKED TROUT PAUPIETTE was fresh smoked fish wrapped around a trout mousse with LYGON GARDEN Tomato Salad and was sublime. My TERRINE of DUCK CONFIT & POACHED PLUMS with Beetroot Relish was also nice, but no prize winner.

We moved to a simple MERCUREY (light Pinot Noir) 2004 from Domaine de Sureman with our entrees which were both excellent: Breast of GUINEA FOWL, Limes, Fondant Potatoes, Glazed Carrots for Will and for me the Chilean SEA BASS, with Creamed Leeks & Peas and Saffron Potatoes. I try hard to eat local foods and felt it was daft (UK for "lame") to order Chilean fish, but the sauce was sublime and I was happy. The potatoes were the standard parslied boiled ones and if there was saffron in them, it was barely a pinch.

Will chose the BAKEWELL Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert which is kind of an almond pie or cake while my PEACH MELBA, PEACH SORBET and Fresh Raspberries was a disaster, save for the sorbet and 3 raspberries. The peach was nice and sat atop a kind of cardboard-like semi-freddo. I asked the server what it was and she said "ice cream." I told her it tasted like cardboard, and since she was from Germany, she did not understand, but said she would pass it on to the chef. Nobody ever apologized, we paid and left for a short walk around the totally dead at 10pm village, where swe spotted a number of busy dining spots where we might have saved money and probably done a lot better!