The Balmer Lawn surprise
A couple of months ago I met the Michael Clitheroe the General Manager of The Balmer Lawn Hotel he invited my husband and I to dine at their restaurant Beresford's as I hadn't visited the hotel in probably thirty years. I was in for a surprise as the dated image that I had in my head from all those years ago is no longer evident at The Balmer Lawn Hotel.
Built in around 1800 as a private hunting lodge the hotel has undergone several transformations in its time and seen some very famous people through its doors including royalty. It was commandeered during both world wars firstly as a hospital and then as a college and more recently owned by the Ladbroke Group and latterly became an Associate Hilton Hotel.
In 1979 the hotel became privately owned by its current owners the Wilson family who have worked hard to refurbish the hotel combining traditional touches with modern elegance. Be sure to have a look at some of the documents that have been found in the building and are now displayed for all to read.
The restaurant had a calm atmosphere when we entered and were shown to our table I was particularly impressed by that as the hotel was obviously hosting a wedding that day (I bumped into the bride in the toilets, not literally) and that can sometimes have a detrimental effect on other guests visiting or staying.
My concern with restaurants within hotels is how to attract visitors that are not staying at the venue its never going to be an easy thing to do. However, The Balmer Lawn Hotel is set in the New Forest National Park which attracts 13.5 million visitors a year and almost 1 million of those visitors includes an overnight stay so attracting diners at Beresford's shouldn't be an issue.
The Balmer Lawn Hotel has recently been awarded two AA Rosettes for culinary excellence and when your starters looks like this you can see why.
Pigeon Breast, textures of Beetroot and Nasturtiums
Garden Pea veloute, soft free range hens egg, homemade streaky bacon
These two beautifully presented starters were a real treat for your tastebuds especially the pea, egg and bacon combination but they both really did work.
Unusually for us we both choose fish dishes for our main courses pan roasted cod for him and and halibut for me again the presentation was excellent although personally taste wise I found the cheese topping a little overpowering for the halibut.
Pan seared halibut, rarebit, dijon mash, spinach, sauce vierge
Pan roasted cod, caramelised shallot, peas,beans,saffron potatoes
Now to the dessert menu a little bit of food envy when it came to the desserts mine was delicious and beautifully presented but the theatre of my husband's dish when that salted caramel came oozing out made me very jealous. Just watch the video below although I do apologise for the background noise I just wanted you to see for yourself.
Lemon poppy sponge with meringue,lemon curd and sorbet
Salted caramel fondant, green apple sorbet
All in all a fab night out with great food, I will be going back to try an afternoon tea or perhaps a Sunday lunch as I hear the roasts are a really special and accompanied by some live music. I am also seriously considering their event - Dine in the sky!
Executive Head Chef, Chris Wheeldon is taking part in Southampton's dine in the sky on Sunday 24th September so you can experience the Beresford's restaurant dishes 100 feet above the ground. For more details check out www.eventsinthesky.co.uk
Balmer Lawn Hotel