Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Morston Hall - #STFFonTour in Norfolk

Good friends of ours moved to North Norfolk last year and when we planned a weekend visit, the first thing I asked our host was "How close are you to Morston Hall?"  I know of Morston Hall from seeing chef/patron Galton Blackiston on various TV shows and I just love his approach to cooking. He is extremely big on seasonality and using the fantastic produce of his home county, Norfolk. And he just seems like a really lovely guy!

Morston Hall has been owned by Blackiston and his wife for 22 years and for 15 of those they have held a Michelin star. It is a boutique hotel and they regularly run cookery classes too. Looking at the pictures on the website, I was expecting a huge country house in the middle of nowhere, so was quite surprised to find that even though the location is rural, it's not quite out in the sticks as I expected.  It is still a grand old pile though!


There is only 1 dinner sitting and we were asked to arrive at 19:30 with dinner being served at 20:00. When we arrived, we were seated in the lovely conservatory for a pre-dinner drink and a couple of snacks. Unfortunately I can't remember exactly what these were, but one was fish based and the other Parmesan. Both tasty little morsels. With our drinks, came a bowl of caper berries. I had never eaten them on their own like this and I have to say I really enjoyed it. They were extremely sharp, but really buttery in texture. I think this is a great alternative to a bowl of olives and definitely something I will serve to any guests I have over to my house in the future.


At 8pm we moved over to the main dining room and were seated at a round table with a view over the whole room. (I just love round tables when you're dining in a group). It is a daily changing 7 course tasting menu, which included a pre-dessert. We kicked off with Parsley root soup, parsley leaf & nutmeg foam. The soup was rich and the parsley leaf foam on top adding a nice bit of freshness, it was totally more'ish - a starter that was enjoyed by all. I really liked the crockery that this was served with. In fact, all the crockery was really unusual and really beautifully designed.


Next we had roasted quail, Scotch egg and sauce Bois Boudran. The bird was cooked exactly how I like it, tender and seasoned well. I love eggs in any form so was thrilled to see a Scotch egg on the menu and a true test of a well cooked Scotch egg is that the yolk is still runny - and this one was. I thought I could taste tarragon in the casing, which I am not a fan of at all, but I just used the meat to mop up the yolk and Bois Boudran sauce none the less.



Camomile roasted carrot, Tunworth cheese, lemon purée, camomile broth followed. The carrot was tender and I really enjoyed the saltiness the Tunworth cheese added. Galton came out of the kitchen himself to add the camomile broth to the dish. (I thought this was a really nice touch and I got a little star struck, so I can't really recall the description he provided. Sorry Galton!)


This next dish was just stunning and it's a strong tussle between this and the next course for my favourite of the evening. Grandmaster Lobster, samphire, lobster bisque. Another dish that was executed to absolute perfection. The lobster just melted in my mouth, the samphire adding a nice flavour of the sea and the bisque adding a real depth of flavour, bringing the whole dish together. 


Our friend is allergic to shellfish, so they kindly offered an alternative of sea bass, which he had never had before. He really enjoyed it and would order it again in the future.


Onto our last savoury course and what a blinder it was! Feather blade of wagyu beef, bashed Jersey royal potato, shallot purée, beef jus. With every mouthful, there was a 'wow' from all of us at the table. The beef was the most tender piece of meat I think I've ever had. The shallot purée had a wonderfully strong onion flavour as you would expect. The whole dish was just gorgeous from the first bite to the last.



Up next, we had what I would say is the perfect palate cleanser of blood orange sorbet with rhubarb. Light and refreshing and all the flavours were well balanced. 


Everyone at the table chose the Bramley Apple soufflé, ginger and lime butterscotch sauce for their dessert, except me. The soufflé had risen majestically, it was as light as a feather and the taste that I had was scrummy. The butterscotch sauce adding just the right amount of sweetness to it. 


Unsurprisingly I went for British cheeses with homemade biscuits, sultana and walnut bread. The choice of cheeses was good and I particularly enjoyed the Lincolnshire poacher which was made from unpasteurised milk and matured for 18 months.

We've misplaced the bill, but we paid approximately £330 for 4 people which included 1 bottle of wine, a few beers and service. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening and felt that even though it was fine dining in a beautiful setting,  service was relaxed yet professional. It was just a great all round experience made even more special for me by getting to meet the chef in his kitchen.  If you're ever in that part of the country then make sure you add Morston Hall to the top of your list of restaurants to eat at! I highly recommend it.


The lovely Galton Blackiston and I (with added photo bomber!)

It's Easter this coming weekend and I am sure there will be lots of great food and drink involved. Here's hoping the weather plays along.

Until we eat again!

Morston Hall
http://www.morstonhall.com/
Morston, Holt
Norfolk, NR25 7AA 


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