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Overnight stay for three with dinner and breakfast

rooz Overnight stay for three with dinner and breakfast image

The “Bay Tree” is beautifully presented, fully refurbished, historic hotel building – formerly an Elizabethan private house – with attentive staff,charming, traditionally furnished rooms and an impressive dining room overlooking a delightful garden.
Expectations were consequently very high as we looked forward to dinner in the glamorous dining room after a celebratory bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne.
The only note of concern at this point was the disappointment of the sandwiches we ordered for lunch. The menu description of the local cheddar and ham rather oversold compared the grated cheese (!) and uninteresting ham and cheese slice sandwiches which arrived.
Ignoring this we went ahead with our evening booking for the restaurant. After the champagne and some acceptable canapés, we order from the detailed and very descriptive ‘à la carte’ menu.
One odd note was that he wine list showed no vintage years for any of the (rather expensive) wines. When the starters came we had a real shock. We had ordered one offered as being with pork filet one with tuna and one with turbot – described in mouth watering terms on the menu.
What came was barely a mouthful on each plate with tuna the size of a ten P piece on one serving and a tiny sliver of what was I presume turbot (there was not enough to know what it was) on another. Seasoning was totally absent and the whole starter ‘event’ was over in seconds for all three of us. Frankly,we were close to laughter!
However, the only comment we made to the waitress when asked ‘how it was’,was on the surprisingly tiny size of the entrees- her response was to ask if we wanted any more! A little shocked, we declined – it was hardly a ‘help yourself’ buffet we had ordered!
For the main course I had ordered a roast filet of beef dish for nearly £5 extra, which was well cooked but again unseasoned and small but I was fortunate in having at least that to eat. The few accompanying bits and pieces had no seasoning and frankly I could not tell what they were supposed to be, although one was apparently a snail (tasteless – and I love snails). My wife’s Guinea Fowl made no impression whatever – the tiny portion on her plate hardly resembled any presentation of a bird we know well. The pasta vegetarian dish would have been acceptable – had we been in an urban high street spaghetti house rather than a country hotel restaurant, pitching at the ‘fine dine’ end of the market. A vegetable side dish appeared to be a pre-prepared mixed pack. probably frozen and microwaved on the very firm side – once again no seasoning whatever.
We worked the pepper and salt mills very hard during this evening.
We approached the dessert with little enthusiasm although the cheese plate was acceptable. The other desserts were too cold straight from the fridge and took a long time to arrive by which time we had lost interest.
The bill for this experience was £38 a head plus £4.95 extra for my beef filet – around £122.95 with wine an extra £31.50 – total £154.45 without any coffee or aperitif. The large dining room had only four or five tables occupied on a Friday night.
Breakfast was the last shot at a decent offering. The buffet was very attractively presented but the cooked breakfast took its time coming, although there were only a few people waiting and the ‘ full English ‘was once again subject to very tight portion control – one small rasher of bacon a few beans, half a tomato, a tiny morsel of black pudding, some egg and a lonely mushroom. The scrambled egg was light but tasteless and watery. The cafetière coffee had been stewing in its insulated pot. I had ordered a kipper – what came were two small rectangular portions of the ” boil in a bag” variety without head, tail or bones – obtainable from any supermarket.
With the superb decor and setting this ought to be one of the best hotel restaurants in the area. I can only say that if food is not really that important to you, by all means enjoy the lovely bedrooms, the tasteful period surroundings and the welcoming staff – but an expensive hotel which offers ‘quality’ food for me has to be a total experience, not just a matter of decor, so if you are hungry and enjoy quality food that looks and tastes like the descriptions on the Menu – eat elsewhere!
Room Tip: Converted stables described as ‘very good’ rooms super and quiet. See more room tips

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