I have visited Chewton Glen in the New Forest annually since my son Alex started working there five years ago, moving over from Delaire Graff Estate to the fellow Relais & Chateaux property. Over time I have tried out the various eating options at the hotel, and tried them all out again on my most recent visit last week.
I stayed at the highly awarded hotel for three days, and also tried out its eating facilities before my check-in, as my son and his partner live close enough to the hotel for me to walk to it. Various price and cuisine levels are offered to guests of Chewton Glen, those staying over as well as day visitors.
Chewton Glen Dining Room Breakfast
The Breakfasts served in the hotel restaurant are more than generous, and I needed to write down everything that is offered, as its Breakfast Buffet range is so vast, offered in conjunction with various Cooked Breakfast options.
The Buffet offers fresh juices (orange,cranberry, apple, coconut water, and herb-infused water); fresh fruit (orange slices, grapefruit segments, stewed prunes, poached green figs, bananas, naartjies, watermelon slices, poached apricots, peaches); Bakery Treats (croissants, pain aux chocolat, pain aux raisin, muffins, baguette, mini Strudel); four cereal types including a home-made granola; Bircher Müsli, an absolute favorite with childhood memories, made with soaked oats, apple, nuts and raisins; a yoghurt and fruit compot, Greek yoghurt; various milks, including semi-skimmed, skimmed, and almond, completely on trend; smoked salmon, with slices of lemon and capers; cold meats, which included cooked and Parma ham, as well as slices of charcuterie; a variety of jams (strawberry, raspberry, honey, marmalade); and Cheddar and Brie cheeses.
At the table one’s place setting includes a glass, into which the Smoothie of the day is poured. The ingredient mix changes daily, it being strawberry, apple, pear, honey and Chia seeds on my last breakfast morning.
A smart Cooked Breakfast menu offers a variety of Flambards farm eggs styles (boiled, poached, fried, scrambled), with one’s choice of accompaniments (grilled plum tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, Donald Russell pork sausage, smoked streaky and back bacon, black pudding, Heinz baked beans, hash browns, and haggis). In addition, one can order cinnamon roasted banana and peanut butter; smashed avocado with sunblushed tomatoes and chia seeds, and poached eggs with spiced avocado, served on Sourdough. Furthermore, they offer Kedgeree, grilled Inverawe kippers, toasted bagel with smoked salmon and crème fraîche, Chesil Smokery smoked salmon and scrambled eggs; and porridge. I chose a scrambled egg on the first morning; two poached eggs and steamed spinach which was crispy and crunchy, spinach not even being in the menu; and two 6 minute boiled eggs and avocado, on toast, also not a meu item.
The menu defines the ingredients of each key ingredient that may cause an allergic reaction, including fish, gluten, eggs, dairy, celery, crustaceans, peanuts, lupin, molluscs, mustard, soya, sulphuric dioxide, and sesame. I have never seen such a detailed allergen list on a menu before.
Chewton Glen Dining Room Lunch
I was very excited that my friend Brigitte Käse came up for a day, to visit me from London, She was my Camino guide last year, and we enjoyed each other’s company on the three week walk to Santiago de Compostela. I had been gifted a 375 ml bottle of Veuve Clicquot on my arrival, too much for me to drink alone, but perfect to share with Brigitte on her arrival. As Brigitte’s train was delayed, we moved to the main restaurant after sipping our champagne, seated at a table with a view into the green lawn. Our striped underplate had a napkin on it, in a bunny napkin holder, so apt as the nature reserve across the road is named Chewton Bunny. The showplate is removed once one has ordered, and the napkin has been placed on one’s lap.
For lunch the Estate Menu is offered at £25 for two courses and £32 for three courses. Whilst the Estate and Spring Menus are priced, each individual item on the Estate Menu was priced too, possibly meaning that one could order as many or as few dishes as one wants to, charged at the individual price. Carlingford Lough Oysters (three) were not available as a starter on Tuesday. Brigitte ordered charred Wye Valley asparagus, goat curd, puffed seeds, and Zhoug. Being allergic to goat milk, the curd was replaced with hollandaise sauce. Other starter options, which did not appeal to me, were River Test smoked eel, South Coast mackerel niçoise, and pressing of smoked ham hock with quail egg. Instead I ordered a side of Isle of White heirloom tomato salad, charged at £5 as a side.
Brigitte ordered the chargrilled dry-aged sirloin steak with triple cooked chips, and a green peppercorn sauce, which she requested on the side. This main course carries a supplement of £8, which we did not see on the menu. She declared the generous-sized steak to be soft and tender, having ordered it as Rare. I chose poached lemon sole in an unusual rolled presentation, with a vermouth sauce, and asparagus, a light main course which was perfect for my eating pattern. I declined the cockles and clams of the dish. Other main course options are assisted of pork, for two to share; confit lamb belly; Chalk stream trout; and pea, champagne, and mint risotto. The other sides (£5 each) offered were heritage carrots, truffled mashed potato, spring pea fricassée, and tender stem broccoli, mirin, soy, ginger and chilli.
The dessert choice was an obvious one for me, the cherry and vanilla Mille Feuille with mascarpone, basil ice cream, and lime, beautifully rounded off with thinly sliced toasted pastry. Brigitte decided against dessert, due to the size of her steak. Other dessert options were dark chocolate fondant and raspberry; glazed Calamansi (a citrus) tart with pink peppercorn medium hue; baked cheesecake with New Forest strawberries; and a selection of ice creams and sorbets. Tea or coffee, with petit fours, costs £4,95.
A three-course ‘A celebration of Spring’ is on offer on the Menu too, but three courses plus a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rosé at £45 was not an option for us, as the dishes are prescribed, and too large a lunch. This menu is fixed at English asparagus, fried duck egg lovers, and crispy pancetta as the starter; asiette of lamb with crushed peas, marjoram, and fondant potato as the main course; and baked cheese cake with Yorkshire rhubarb and stem ginger as dessert.
One afternoon I ordered just a dessert of scoops of vanilla and strawberry ice creams, homemade by the kitchen, served with biscotti, and berries.
Chewton Glen Bar
I enjoyed sitting in the Bar most afternoons and evenings, staying at the hotel on my own, enjoying a Teeling Irish Whiskey (as a substitute for my Jameson) or a pot of tea whilst writing. In the time that I fished the hotel I ordered food from the Bar Menu, an afternoon Carrot cake with orange segments and clotted cream, with my pot of Earl Grey tea; and a delicious as well as beautiful prawn and crayfish salad in a Marie sauce (£16). Eating in the Bar took the formal edge off the meal, and allowed me to write at the same time.
A range of sandwiches, served with potato crisps and a small salad, mainly priced at £12, and soup of the day at £9, are other Bar Menu options.
Chewton Glen Spa
I had not visited the Spa in some time, so for the benefit of this story, I went across to the Spa one lunchtime, being received with a friendly welcome by Manager Daniel and his assistant. I had not intended to eat at the Spa Buffet, but one item caught my attention immediately: a Vegan avocado and chocolate dessert….. mmmm it was a combination that seemed so weirdly unusual, but it looked like a chocolate mousse, and tasted like one predominantly too. It was topped with a blueberry and a raspberry, and also contained oatmeal, honey, and vanilla, the staff established on my behalf from the kitchen.
As the Chewton Glen Spa clientele is locals who use the Spa facilities, and combine it with a Spa Buffet treat, or hotel guests, the emphasis is in healthy eating. One pays £20 for an all you can eat Buffet, consisting of a range of salads (Greek, melon and Parma ham crisps, curry couscous, soba noodle, Asian prawn, carrot, orange and hazelnut, rocket and Parmesan, mixed leaves, pesto pasta with tomato and bulgar wheat); cold dishes of smoked trout, grilled vegetables, grilled vegetables and goat cheese wraps, red curry chicken, cured meats, and Chicken Caesar wraps; and a rather large selection of desserts in small portions (fruit salad, chocolate mousse, Eton Mess, crème brûlée, poached pineapple, chocolate cake, lemon posset, Kalamansi tart, apple loaf, blueberries and raspberries, and muesli bars). These were the Buffet dishes offered last Tuesday, and vary daily.
One can also order off an a la carte menu, with soup of the day, a range of salads, a Chewton Glen Burger, a BLT sandwich, mature cheddar cheese and piccalilli sandwiches, and the same range of sandwiches offered on the Bar Menu.
A Blackboard offers a range of smoothies (Very Berry, Cheeky Monkey, Tropical Waves), and freshly pressed juices (Night Vision, Down Under, Veg Patch), all charged at £6. I was interested to read in the blackboard that the buffet is described as the ‘70/30 Alkaline Buffet’, described as ‘one of the most exciting new healthy eating programmes’. It summarises that this eating focus is mainly on vegetarian foods, eating whole grain over processed foods, and cutting back on acid-forming foods such as meats and dairy. This gives the body more energy and promotes health.
As a relatively new tea drinker, I was fascinated to read about the health benefits of the Camellia’s loose leaf Teas which they stock in the Spa, only containing naturally grown ingredients. Teas can counter anxiety, stress, high cholesterol, and boosts vitality. healthy bones, teeth, and the immune system. I loved their Earl Grey and Orange tea. Other tea flavours include Aching Muscles, and White Apricot.
Chewton Glen Tea in the Lounge
A daily cake is set up in the Lounge, and noticed a most beautifully decorated caramel chocolate cake, its pearls on top of the icing attracting my attention immediately, pearls being my favourite jewellery. The Chewton Glen Pastry Chef is Susanne Hauptle. I was so busy on that day, that I did not get a chance to sit down in the Lounge and order a slice of it. But I did manage to photograph it. The cost is £ 13 per slice with a hot beverage.
The Kitchen restaurant opened at Chewton Glen in conjunction with well-known Chef James Martin, at the second of two Chewton Glen entrance gates. It is a more informal contemporary dining establishment, serving Lunch and Dinner. In the spirit of sourcing local ingredients, a little Greenhouse has been erected as part of the restaurant. The informal element of the restaurant comes through in the wire animals grazing in the lawn, including a pig and a goat, as well as being greeted by a hen at the entrance door. When one enters, there is a small cosy seating area, and here a full length painting of Chef James dominates. The kitchen is open plan, one hearing and seeing it in action. At the far end of the restaurant is a separate section, the cookery school.
In keeping my meal light, I chose a starter of Loch Duart salmon carpaccio, in which the mango accompaniment was replaced with grapefruit, served with avocado mousse. (£6). I had a pot of Earl Grey tea too, my new favorite beverage, alongside water. Other starters include pork scratching, Padron peppers, Devon crab and sea vegetable gratin, grilled tiger prawns, wild garlic and old Wincherester croquettes, Zhoug-spiced shredded duck confit, and a Pizetta with figs, prosciutto, Gorgonzola, and truffle honey, an interesting combination, these charged at a price range of £ 4 – 10. Three salads are charged at £16/17. A range of burgers is available, with beef, chicken or Halloumi, at £14 – 17. Four Pizza options are in a similar price range. Beef and lamb prices range from £20 – 29, while a pork tomahawk for two to share costs £42. Fish dishes are charged between £18 – 22.
For dessert, I selected a warm baked chocolate and raspberry mousse, accompanied by the most delicious coffee ice cream, even though I no longer drink coffee. (£8). Other desserts are Limoncella baba, New Forest strawberry Eton Mess, churros, sticky toffee pudding, Knickerbocker Glory (a selection of ice creams), as well as a selection of Laverstoke Park ice creams, at £2,50 a scoop.
On the day that I ate at The Kitchen for lunch, I saw on the Specials board that the same Spanish sausage ingredient was offered in two dishes: Sobrasada in a Confit chicken and aubergine terrine with piccalilli and charred sourdough at £6, and a Sobrasada, blue cheese, broccoli, and kalamata olive pizza, at £15. These were offered alongside a main course special of The Kitchen fish pie, pancetta, samphire, with Dorset puff pastry, at £19.
Chewton Glen Kitchen Garden
Five years ago the Chewton Glen Estate Manager Darren Venables created a Kitchen Garden, from which the Chewton Glen restaurant kitchen sources its fruit (apples, grapes, strawberries, figs), herbs (Bergamont, fennel, rosemary, peppermint, lemon verbena, anise, and more), edible flowers, and vegetables (broad beans, corn, spinach, kale, onions, shallots, amongst others) in the main. It has a fruit orchard too, and has more recently set up bee hives with 5 million bees on the vast estate, Darren telling me that there are more than sixty hives, as they are focusing on breeding Queen Bees now, given the threat to the bee population. The garden also supplies Naked Jams, from which chutneys, jams, and jellies are made, for sale in the hotel and its restaurants.
I certainly had a good eating stay at Chewton Glen, and was welcomed with great friendliness, wherever I ate on the hotel property. The Chewton Glen kitchen is headed up by Chef Luke Matthews, who has been at the hotel for 25 years.
Chewton Glen,, Christchurch Road, New Milton, NewcForest, UK. Tel 0044 1425 275341 www.chewtonglen.com Twitter: @chewtonglen Instagram: @chewtonglen
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Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein