14 restaurants in Warminster
Restaurants in Warminster:
Church Street, Maiden Bradley, Warminster, BA12 7HW [Map]
Boreham Road, Warminster, BA12 9HH [Map]
Bishopstrow House has been described as a temple to relaxation, a proposition that it would be churlish to deny. Its ivy-clad exterior encourages the notion of a building that has become part of the landscape in which it is possible to put the cares of the world behind you, and take time to catch up with yourself.
When the time comes to re-connect there is a wealth of pleasant distractions within and around the hotel, ranging from a James Bond black tie event with Aston Martins, to a day amongst the peerless beauty of Longleat, one of the great houses of England, or some of the finest private gardens in the country.
Central to Bishopstrow is the Mulberry Restaurant, a symphony of golden yellow named after a venerable tree in the grounds, beneath which it is said that on a warm summer's day it is possible to enjoy the sun, disturbed only by the occasional sound of falling ripe mulberries.
The Restaurant leads off The Conservatory, often used as a breakfast room, and overlooks the gardens. Two or three course lunches are served, but as ever the main event is dinner, when Head Chef Frank Bailey and his team pull all the stops out, making heavy demands upon local sources for their ingredients, sometimes organic, using sporting estates and occasionally more modest locations to which only they have access.
Starters yield a pressed game pate set with its own marinade and home made chutney, roasted breast of wood pigeon with a cep and herb risotto, or grilled red mullet with a coconut and coriander cous-cous. And a hint - do not treat lightly the seasonal country soup, all too often an amalgam of kitchen bin ends - but here a source of subtle flavours.
The main event demonstrates a kitchen that is in full charge of its output, ranging from duck breast stuffed with black figs, celeriac fondant and a mulled wine sauce, or pan fried Longleat pheasant with a baby onion and garlic tart tatin. The venison from the West Country is renowned for its flavour; expect to find pan fried saddle with gratin potato and wild mushrooms.
And so to dessert country, or as the menu encouragingly calls them, "puddings". A parfait made from honey, whisky and Irish Cream is served imaginatively with sweet golden raisins, and the wonderful array of West Country farmhouse cheeses represent an opportunity not to be missed.
A leading Conservative MP once famously referred to a colleague as having "something of the night" about him. I wonder if she had in mind the dark side of the melting chocolate fondant served in the Mulberry.
In keeping with the spirit of the times they serve a canape selection, a sort of English dim sum, suitable for a light lunch accompanied by a canny choice from the excellent wine list.
Amongst a good range of choices expect to find parmesan and olive biscuits with goat's cheese and pesto, blinis with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and dill, ham roulade with Dijon butter or mini baked potatoes with caviar and sour cream, all for a very modest sum, no pun intended.
The same high standards of von Essen everywhere apply at this delightful restaurant.
English, Modern British
Center Parcs, Longleat Forest, Warminster, BA12 7PU [Map]
Café Rouge has over one hundred branches throughout Britain all offering a wide range of dishes drawn from the French cuisine. Slightly less than half their branches are in or close to London. Almost inevitably the décor and design of each restaurant differs from the others, but there is a general curtsy towards La France.
Many restaurants do an excellent breakfast, or shall we say petit dejeuner, at which such delights as scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toasted brioche, croque Madame, croissants and pain au chocolate make welcome appearances, and to their credit the English traditional gets top billing.
An array of hors d'oeuvres takes in classic French onion and beef soup with a melted gruyere crouton, classic snails in melted garlic butter, and pan-fried crab cakes with a chilli, lemon and coriander jam. Salads, pasta and quiches feature largely, as do baguettes and croques. Quick dishes, ideal for lunch, include smoked Toulouse sausages with sautéed with new potatoes, caramelised onions and balsamic vinegar on a salad of mixed leaves.
Moving on to more serious stuff we find steaks, an 8oz bavette and thin cut rib eye, with a choice of sauces that include the signature sauce de Café Rouge, prepared specially from over twenty secret ingredients. No French menu would be complete without the demi poulet, or a steak frites before moving on to the crème brûlée, or the tart tatin. Almost invariably the coffee tastes like coffee should, something that sadly can all too often still not be said of our English restaurants, who depend too much upon technology and too little on the acquisition of a certain flair for this important conclusion to a meal.
By now we all know that the French, despite their distinctive habits when it comes to matters of satisfying the inner man, maintain a miraculous longevity of life. This is generally attributed to a number of causes, of which a measured consumption of decent wine is foremost. Café Rouge, you may be pleased to hear, encourages this with a well-chosen selection of French wines. Their prix fixe lunch and meals for children, both at a very reasonable figure, also offer excellent value.
The Longleat Estate, Horningsham, Warminster, BA12 7LY [Map]
High Street, Codford St Peter, Warminster, BA12 0NG [Map]
The worthy chef proprietor of this admirable inn is Boyd McIntosh, formerly head chef at nearby Howard's House, and my heart warmed to him as I read Boyd's Philosophy on Food, summarised as "over complication of dishes is the downfall of many a good chef".
The George at Codford is one of those country inns with rooms where the moment you stick your head round the door you know you are on to a winner. There is a gentle air of mild and comfortable scruff that implies the main burden of effort is exerted towards the food and drink, nor would that be wrong.
Starters of cream of spiced parsnip and sweet potato soup with garlic croutons gives a new dimension to a dish often regarded as only de rigueur on days when brass monkeys are searching for welding sets. The twice baked soufflé of blue cheese, fresh asparagus, with red pepper fondant, priced at under a fiver, is the sort of thing which, served up in a smart London restaurant would have the critics agog with delight.
The main event yields such dishes as fillet of red mullet, cherry tomato and chorizo salad, with a delicate lime and coriander vinaigrette, or caramelized breast of Gressingham duck, sautéed wild mushrooms, and Earl Grey jus. Their English fillet steaks arrive at table seared with black pepper, with nothing left to the imagination on the trimmings.
Puddings come within an ace of defying the Boyd McIntosh dictum, in that they are what might be termed as highly structured, but as Betjeman once said of a flamboyant Victorian church in Norfolk, "naughty - very naughty - but in the right spirit".
A decent wine list, Timothy Taylor at the taps, all's right with the world.
More restaurants in Warminster:
Featured Restaurant Group
Whether you are a hopeless Francophile or just appreciate a combination of French and some English food and drink, Café Rouge is for you. Their café/restaurants, whilst each is different, join together in celebrating the French café with its characteristics cleverly repeated or implied.
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