In today’s Tuesday Travels we’re off to Ludlow with Esme, as she reviews the gastronomic delight that is Mr Underhill’s House. I know I’m always looking for places that are within reach and easy, (read: couple of hours drive for fantastic food and a cosy bed, for a weekend of relaxation with no stress) so I’ll certainly be bookmarking this one for future jaunts. Foodies amongst you will also be enthralled by the restaurant review…
The best thing about Mr Underhill’s House in Ludlow is the food. That is why people come here, why they come back year after year and why it is very hard to get a table, never mind a room there. Luckily for me and my husband, I booked our two night stay several months in advance because it was the hotel that we stayed in for our pseudo-moon, straight after our wedding this August. And boy was I glad that I had, because it was absolutely amazing.
Mr Underhill’s is a self-confessed ‘restaurant with rooms’. What they mean by this is that this is a Michelin star holding, award-winning restaurant that is the main focus of the business and because the restaurant is in such a beautiful location, they expanded to have a few hotel rooms too. What a good idea!
The rooms are really, really good. They are full of antique furniture, comfy beds and pretty local art. Our bathroom was small but the bath was big enough for two (it was the day after we got married – what?!) and was well stocked with own brand miniature organic products so good that I am seriously considering staying there again just for the conditioner. We were greeted with a cafetiere of freshly ground coffee and homemade shortbread biscuits and were sent on our way with bottles of local water and more shortbread (plus a full-size bottle of their hand wash and hand cream because I said how much I loved them) – lovely touches that made us fall even further in love with Mr Underhill’s.
Before I get to the dinner – the bit I know you’re all waiting for – I’ll just quickly say that it’s going to be a long time before a hotel beats the breakfast we had on our first morning. A quick phone call before bed the evening before resulted in a quiet knock on our door at 10.30 am, and a large tray filled with coffee, local apple juice, fresh brioche with homemade berry compote and the only muesli my husband has ever liked for us to enjoy in bed whilst we read our wedding cards. Perfect.
It is a bit of an understatement to say that my hubby and I enjoy our food: we have had some great meals in our time, and this was our second Michelin starred experience (I know! Aren’t we lucky? And the first one was also this year! And we didn’t even have to pay for that one!), so expectations were high. I think it was about 10 minutes in that we realised that this meal was going to be a whole new level of delicious.
The USP of Mr Underhill’s is that you don’t get to choose what you eat – they create a daily market menu of at least six courses (we had eight, not including two plates of petit fours) that is tailored to each group. When you call to book a table they ask you about dietary requirements and whether there’s anything you really don’t like (I can’t stand the herb dill and was seriously impressed that the dill marinated salmon on our menu had been replaced with an incredible shallot hummus just for me) and then, when you arrive, you are presented with your own menu. We were excited about this concept because it means that you get something a bit different that you will like and that the chef has designed to make the most of what’s good to eat on that day. You get to choose your pudding and can add an extra cheese course, but otherwise everyone is eating the same thing.
I’m not going to detail the whole meal (partly because I want you to go and experience it for yourself and partly because I am already majorly salivating over my keyboard) but here are some of the highlights:
The Sorrel veloute – I actually licked my bowl.
The fish course: bream with crunchy veg. The most delicious thing I have ever put in my mouth – fact.
My choice of pudding: beetroot fondant with carrot ice-cream, pea foam and black pepper caramel. Pretty darn incredible.
Our waiter reciting the names and descriptions of ten cheeses flawlessly. These guys knew their stuff.
Now, it was not a cheap evening but I would not hesitate to say that it was good value (our bill came to around £150 for two seven-course meals and three glasses of wine that had been matched to the food). A night – and holiday – we will never forget.
Thank you so much for sending this in Esme!
Have you been to Mr Underhill’s House? Got somewhere else you would like to recommend?
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