It’s not just every day a restaurant is awarded a Michelin star, but Pennyhill Park’s Latymer by Steve Smith managed to make its way to the top within a year of opening. The Handbook’s founder Elly Stancliffe headed to the Surrey countryside to check it out…
Ask any foodie and they will tell you that they are happy to travel for food if it’s critically acclaimed, so when I heard that Pennyhill Park’s relaunched restaurant under the wing of Steve Smith has landed itself a Michelin star within a year of service, I knew I needed to check it out for myself.
Set within Pennyhill Park’s majestic grounds, the ivy-clad hotel that’s renowned for its 120 acres of Surrey parkland, luxury overnight stays and tranquil spa facilities, Latymer relaunched in 2020 and is destined to impress.
At the helm is culinary whizz Steve Smith. Having held a Michelin star for the last 20 years, boasting five AA Rosettes and received a Catey Award for Chef of the Year in 2014, Steve is regarded as one of the most gifted chefs of our time. His expertise and culinary prowess have seen him become recognised for his modern British cooking that utilises the finest seasonal British ingredients, and Latymer’s menu offering follows in his specialist footsteps.
The restaurant, situated in one of the oldest parts of the original house at Pennyhill Park, is home to that old school dining atmosphere you would expect from a country house hotel. Luxurious and intimate at the same time, the room’s character comes to life through the wooden panelling, beamed ceiling, rich fabrics and white cloth-lined tables.
Since its launch, Latymer has honed its craft, now offering two sensational tasting menus, each with its own element of surprise. We opted for the six-course Discovery Menu available during the evening service.
Inspired by the seasons, the menu changes regularly, with each dish utilising the very best ingredients available on the day. Much to our delight, the menu features a variety of snacks alongside the main elements helping to add to the atmosphere and theatrics of the tasting menu.
To start we tucked into the Brixham crab salad with custard and mango coriander, which was light and fresh to kickstart the evening. We opted for the additional wine pairing, which included a glass of 2019 Chablis Premier Cru ‘Fourchaume’ Le Domaine d’Henri from Burgunder, France.
This course was quickly followed by another smaller starter of Maitake, quail egg, potato emulsion and chestnut coppa, paired with a white wine from the Southern Rhône Valley in France. Each dish came presented with an infomationary card, explaining the unusual elements and ingredients crafted for the dish. Here we learnt that the Maitake mushroom grows during the autumn months in Japan, China and some areas of North America, and is a type of adaptogen used to help fight against any type of mental or physical difficulty.
The first of two mains was the Cornish John Dory with cauliflower and seaweed butter. A true dish of the ocean, every bite evoked memories of trips to the seaside.
Being game season, it was inevitable that a game dish would arrive before us and we’re so happy it did as it was an instant table favourite. The Aynhoe fallow deer, served with chervil root, beetroot and bitter chocolate, was paired with a rich red from Veneto Italy. Roasted simply with three types of pepper and juniper, all of the indulgent flavours came together beautifully, from the raw cauliflower couscous to the dark chocolate sauce.
To finish the evening, we delighted in their two pudding options. The first to arrive was a zingy lemon posset that was paired with basil and whortleberry, which is a completely wild berry similar to blueberries, and a blackberry number with waina and almond. Both hearty and a taste of autumn in every bite.
With a setting as beautiful as Pennyhill Park, Latymer by Steve Smith has well and truly landed itself on the foodie map. Book in for a feast and night at the hotel for the ultimate autumn-winter break – we’d recommend booking in for their on-site spa too. With over 20 relaxation spaces, the spa is a destination in its own right. They’ll tailor the packages to suit you – expect to be transported to the Med in an instant. What’s not to love?
Pennyhill Park, London Road, Bagshot, Surrey, GU19 5EU