Chef profile: Down Hall Country House Hotel, Hatfield Heath
PUBLISHED: 16:13 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:28 20 February 2013
Set in 110 acres of park and woodland, Down Hall Country House Hotel is a very imposing venue. The original building dates back to the 1800s and is today an impressive, sympathetic mix of new meets old.
SET in 110 acres of park and woodland, Down Hall Country House Hotel is a very imposing venue. The original building dates back to the 1800s and is today an impressive, sympathetic mix of new meets old.
Hotel manager, Sean Quinney, has been working hard on improving Down Hall's environmentally-friendly credentials over the last year aiming to create an eco ideal.
'Our campaign has been an enormous success,' Sean explains proudly. 'We've already got a great crop of peppers, onions, various different types of lettuce, cucumbers, courgettes and marrows in our own kitchen garden which is set to expand next year. We've also planted more than 60 dwarf fruit trees which should bear fruit in 2009.'
The proof of this success is in the dishes expertly prepared by head chef Mark Jones and I was looking forward to the taste test. It's not just the ingredients which are giving the hotel a green thumb's up either, an energy monitoring system has been installed to reduce energy consumption by 13%, plus the hotel has massively increased its recycling potential and Sean is in talks with a local rare breeds farm to enable them to provide quality meats from a local producer, further reducing food miles.
Lunch arrived in style, presented by chef himself with a fresh pressed tomato terrine with a goats' cheese fondant. The plate was attractively speckled with freshly-made tomato and basil pesto and just a drizzle of balsamic. This is the summer signature dish and it conjured up all the flavours of warm, hazy sunny days.
Pale pink slices of duck came next with the meat cooked skin-on to make it dark and crisp. The duck was set on a bed of home-grown Savoy cabbage with bok choy and baby cress, all tossed in honey and Chinese five-spice. This brightly-coloured dish tasted as good as it looked, sprinkled with sesame seeds to add to the Oriental feel.
Chef's own take on classic summer pudding included a devilish lime crme fraiche. A perfect mix of rich berries without the over-zealous tartness often found, and the rich creamy crme fraiche was delightfully cut through by the dash of lime.
Get the taste
Down Hall Country House Hotel
Matching Road, Hatfield Heath, Nr Bishop's Stortford CM22 7AS
01279 731 441