Lots of dashes in that title, not very easy on the eye. I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading there. Although, if you just read that sentence – you did keep reading, and if you stop at this point I will blame you… anyway, shall we get on with it?
“So, for your 28th birthday I thought I’d take you to John Peel’s favourite restaurant.”
“Who’s John Peel?” my younger fiancée shot back at me.
“Just a little joke, it doesn’t matter. I’m taking you to Hampton-in-Arden.”
“Is that a real place, or another little joke?”
“Not unless you think a village and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull is a joke?!”
I booked us a room at Hampton Manor and dinner at Peel’s. To be honest, such a grand gesture on her 28th was a foolish move, what the fuck is she going to expect for her 30th?
As I’m originally from Solihull (please forgive me) I know of Hampton-in-Arden. A kid I went to school with had a gigantic house there that I went to a couple of times, his dad told me off once and it still haunts my dreams.
I’d heard about the Michelin starred restaurant in the village and occasionally contemplated suggesting meeting my mother there for lunch, but I’ve always considered it a bit too much of a cheek to do the whole:
*Bill is placed on the table*
“THANK YOU DEAREST MOTHER FOR THIS KIND GESTURE,” said while bowing.
Before she’s even looked at it or discussed who’s paying.
So, there’s your backstory and here we are.
Picture this: I’m sat in the lounge drinking a blood orange Collins, think a Tom Collins but with blood orange in it, when suddenly some rather delectable amuse bouche are bought out for us to enjoy.
Next thing you know I’m on the floor, on my back, smashing the amuse bouche against the rocks they’ve been served on – before devouring them like the hungry otter I am deep inside.
“How were they for you?” Lovely Luke the restaurant manager asked. Not even flinching at the fact I was on all fours and squeaking.
“Very nice, thanks.” The lady friend replied.
“Ross, our sommelier will be with you shortly to discuss your wine options.”
Quick as a flash I was back up and human again, otters famously hate wine.
After a brief chat with ravishing Ross, we ordered some white to go with the first few courses and a nice bottle of red for the remainder.
To the food. As with most tasting menus there were some courses that stood out more than others.
For me, the langoustine with leek and ginger and the wagyu beef with spiced cauliflower and black garlic were the highlights.
The two desserts also really need special mention, the first: blood orange, star anise and caramel, washed down with an expert pairing suggested by Ross was an absolute treat. Followed by the chocolate, sherry and vanilla which was equally good – and I’d hit that point of being so satisfied with life that I’d have quite happily sat there drinking until they put me to bed.
Fortunately, the staff didn’t have to face putting me to bed, although I’m sure they would have as they were bloody lovely.