Anytime any of the MIC crew traipses outside of the SW3 postcode area someone always inevitably pipes up on how great it is to get out of the City and for once we find ourselves agreeing with our favourite reality posh totties. Our heart belongs to heaving capital but once in a while we like to head out for pastures green and have a brief dalliance with the countryside, and where better than a manor house?
Flitwick Manor is a four star Grade ll listed country house in Woburn, part of the Menzies Hotel Group, and only 40 minutes from London St Pancras by train. It boasts original features and if you nab yourself a superior double room you will get a four poster bed that will have you travelling back in time and feeling like Henry Vlll (or Queen Elizabeth l). Warning – your own bed may suddenly become plain and lacking a regal touch after your stay. Although the rooms are decorated in fine antiques and period pieces the hotel has been given a refurbishment so that it has all the modern requirements any city dweller could possibly need, I’m obviously referring to WiFi and flatscreen TVs in every room equipped with Freeview.
The real reason this hotel is such a draw is the new addition they have in the kitchen in the form of 2011 Masterchef: The Professionals Finalist, Head Chef Steve Barringer, who has created a special 7 course taster menu and earned the hotel 2 AA Rosettes for culinary excellence. His food is hands down delicious, although each course is small in size, it is mighty in flavour with dishes like a hen’s egg cooked for 2 hours at 62C and served with Jerusalem artichoke crisps and parmesan – it sounds simple but it was divine as the slow cooking process alters the texture of the egg so it isn’t what you would expect.
All of the dishes are creative and jam-packed with flavour and the menu is a delight from beginning to end. Stand out dishes for me would the Lamb served with roasted fennel and feta with a butter sauce, or the Celeriac Risotto with shreds of apple which is not normally a particularly outstanding dish but in this case it was pure genius. Cubed celeriac sits on the creamy risotto with fine shreds of apple and shredded fried celeriac to top gave me a new found interest in this Italian rice dish.
The puddings are very sweet looking (I briefly noticed before scoffing them down), the Ginger Pannacotta is served with mini cubed rhubarb jelly and pieces of rhubarb positively zinging with flavour.
If you need to burn some extra calories after all the indulgent food (and complimentary biscuits in the room – there are also apples but who cares about them?) you can take a walk in the extensive grounds, play a game of tennis or if you are feeling especially fancy partake in a few shots of croquet.