I was invited to The Walmsley Restaurant in Berkshire recently to take a look at this new restaurant housed within the beautiful grounds of Audley Inglewood retirement village.
It’s an impressive building rebuilt to replicate the original which was in disrepair. The insides have also been restored and styled to take guests and residents on its historical journey. I was intrigued by this picture which uses replicas of original relics that have been found on the grounds or belong to the various families that have lived on the estate since medieval times.
We kicked off with some champagne which is always lovely on a dreary and wet Friday evening. The restaurant is currently only open on Fridays and Saturdays for dinner so there is an air of exclusivity.
Our meal was held in the private dining room. There are interesting murals on the wall in this room and the place does have a wonderful air of calm which is rare for me at mealtimes with two little ones. This will be a lovely place to dine a deux perhaps with a little treatment at the onsite spa or a dip in the pool beforehand as non residents can pay to use the facilities on site. It is firmly bookmarked for a weekend escape as there are periodically rooms available in the guest wing reserved for families visiting residents.
A velouté to start
Dinner started with a silky Jerusalem artichoke velouté, wild mushroom and truffle ragout with new potatoes. This was by far and away the best dish of the evening and a great start to our meal and conversation. I had not eaten a velouté before and pondered the difference between this and a soup. I reached out to Twitter and received all sorts of explanations which was rather fun. To clarify – a velouté is the French term for a soup traditionally thickened with egg yolks, butter and cream. Whatever the description it was delicious and left me wanting at least three more bowlfuls. Sadly my dining companions Dom and Dan had polished theirs off far more swiftly than I. Head Chef Gert Pienaar kindly shared his recipe with me.
Moving on to brill..
Our conversation flowed to foodie trends as we were served Pan fried fillet of Brill, brown shrimp and Brussels sprouts fricassee, celeriac and
cognac bisque. It’s nice to see Brill on a tasting menu and the sprouts were a lovely surprise. It tasted of decadence which I think sums up this restaurant and setting. I felt elegant, tall and decadent. It was a nice feeling and I love menus that do this. Transport me from my every day with flavours and combinations I don’t indulge in. Celeraic and cognac worked so elegantly too. I reach too frequently for the leftover wine for sauces but am inspired to dust off the more unusual bottles.
I was getting full but my menu served up another fish dish whilst the rest of the party had venison. It was delicious but I would have prefered a vegetarian course at this stage to break up the fishyness.
Pondering retirement with a coffee and vanilla parfait
I always look forward to dessert but I didn’t enjoy this particular coffee and vanilla parfait, chocolate brownie and coffee jelly. The parfait was pleasant enough but the brownie was too crunchy and the added tuile was a little too much biscuit for the overall dish. I loved the coffee jelly and the presentation though. As with all the dishes it looked appetising and I wanted to eat it despite being so full.
We started to discuss the concept of the retirement village over dinner. It’s popular in the US and Australia and I can understand why. A stunning spa and health classes onsite, calm grounds with no children running around, a planned vegetable garden for pottering in and 24 hour care.
But I have always pictured myself retiring with a reggae bar on a beach. Undecided which beach. Several beaches on Tioman Island hold amazing memories of falling in love with my husband and are very worthy candidates. Baga and Anjuna beaches in Goa bring finger licking lunches of chilli prawns and my first adventures with seafood. Kovalam Beach in Kerala was where I discovered The German Bakery and Bircher Muesli as well as learned to speak enough Kashmiri to trade my Japanese coins for rich woven blousons and skirts. Then there is Chaweng Beach in Ko Samui, Legian Beach in Bali, Izu Peninsula close to Tokyo. I could go on as I have been to a fair few and with another Thailand visit later this year Khao Lak may be added to that mix. Who knows! That being said, I could be swayed to a retirement village with a restaurant like this on site and a kitchen garden to tend to knowing someone else was coming round to do the weeding!