How good does a restaurant have to be to win in the Northamptonshire Food And Drink Awards? If this year’s winner, Oundle Mill, is anything to go by, then the answer is ‘very’.
Knowing that the waterside venue had scooped this year’s Restaurant Of The Year title, it was with great anticipation that my husband, Payat, and I paid a visit.
As the name suggests, the restaurant and its rooms are located in a converted watermill, which serves as a spectacular venue. I was impressed with the cosy room, complete with candles in each of the windows and glass panels in the floor, which allow you to peer beneath your table to see the rushing water below. We booked for Sunday lunch, which I think is advisable as the place was bustling.
We were shown upstairs and into the bar area where we ordered drinks (Coke and half a pint of Spindrift), were given a menu to peruse, and complimentary nibbles to enjoy (candied nuts and anchovy straws with a dill dip).
We were ushered to our tables and presented with another lovely added touch, home-made bread, which came in little warm buns of sage and onion and fruit and nut flavours.
The service was timed perfectly and we were never rushed, but at the same time never had to wait an unreasonable length of time. Our starters soon appeared. I had ordered watercress and potato soup with cider onions and Tunworth cheese, while Payat had the St James’ smoked salmon, breaded Whitby whitebait and paprika aioli.
Often dismissed as boring, watercress does have a distinct flavour and this was brought out beautifully in the soup, which had baby onions delicately balanced on a crouton floating on top, adding an interestingly different crunch.
Meanwhile Payat tucked into his colourful plate of fresh-tasting salmon and whitebait, proclaiming it to be beautiful.
For mains, Payat chose Suffolk Longhorn beef rump, with duck fat potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, while I had mushroom risotto with roast tenderstem broccoli, aged Parmesan and truffle milk.
Payat’s dish was an impressive tower of food. The Yorkshire pudding came on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes (as well as roast), with greens, carrots and slivers of tender beef slices. I did steal a carrot, some mash and a bit of the gravy and can confirm the veg was perfectly done and there were some lovely deep flavours. Payat polished the whole thing off effortlessly. Meanwhile, my risotto was gorgeously creamy and cheesy, complemented well by the nutty-tasting broccoli pieces.
For pudding, I plumped for toffee apple ice cream with crunchy ginger biscuit, while Payat had the chocolate fondant with ice cream. The delicious apple and ginger flavours made my dish seasonal instead of ill-fitting for the time of year. Payat was very satisfied with his chocolate pudding which was firm on the outside and oozing on the inside, just as all good fondants should be.
We paid the set price of £22.50 for three courses each and thought this was reasonable for the quality, and that this restaurant’s recent award was well deserved.
DISABLED ACCESS: Yes, ramp available
PARKING: Large on-site car park
COST OF OUR MEAL
FINAL TOTAL: £49.05 (including drinks)
Anna’s star rating: 10/10