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Review: Jack's at Hartham Park

TGtB's Emily Griffin, went along to Jack's at Hartham Park for a pre-birthday dinner, here is how she got on...

Following a rather eventful drive through an unexpected thunderstorm, we arrived at Hartham Park a little later than expected. The stunning Georgian Mansion House is set in 50 acres of beautiful parkland and grounds. With a grand gate and winding driveway, you really get the feel that something special is waiting for you just around the corner.

After parking our car we headed into Jack’s. With the wind and rain playing havoc outside, Jack’s was warm and inviting.

Our waitress for the evening was Jodi. She was extremely attentive and made sure we had everything we needed. She led us to a quieter area of the restaurant in a little alcove where our table was elegantly laid with a softly glowing candle and a single pink rose.

We removed our damp coats, and relaxed into the welcoming atmosphere.  I really love the way Jack’s has been decorated; perfectly juxtapositioning the old with the new. The walls were adorned with pictures of past nobility reaffirming the house’s rich past.

Jodi took our drinks order, a coke for the driver and a glass of Chilean Merlot for me, then returned with some freshly baked Tuscan bread and butters - infused with herbs from their own Victorian garden. The bread was warm, soft and mouth-wateringly good. My favourite of the butters would have to be the chill – it was subtly flavoured so that the heat didn’t overpower the delicate, sweet flavour of the chilli. The bread and accompanying butters were so good that when Jodi offered us more we couldn’t refuse!

We pondered over the menu and picked our starters. I opted for ‘Olives with Serrano ham, Breaded Manchego and Rocket’. The olives were plump and flavoursome, the cheese was tangy and worked beautifully with the other flavours on the plate. My partner, Kevin, decided on the ‘Fried Duck Egg and Duck Hash’. The duck hash was perfectly seasoned and really meaty – which worked flawlessly with the richness of the duck egg. We both absolutely loved our starters.

Moving on to mains, I mused for quite a while over the menu. Everything sounded simply scrumptious, and I knew if the starters were anything to go by then we were in for a treat!

I finally decided on ‘Medallions of Pork with Whole Grain Mustard Mash, Roasted Courgettes, Spinach and a Cider Sauce’. The pork was perfectly tender; the sauce was rich and had just the right amount of acidity and sweetness to complement the medallions.  The mashed potato was silky smooth and had just a hint of mustard.  I’d really recommend this dish, it was truly delicious, I ate every last bit!

Kevin opted for the ‘Local Beer Burger on Char-grilled Pita Bread with a Beetroot Relish, Old Bay Fries and a Summer Slaw’. He really enjoyed his dish; the burger was well seasoned with home grown garden herbs and the beef was full of flavour -and about as juicy as a burger can get! It worked really well with the beetroot relish and summer slaw, and the fries were fantastic. They were thin, crispy and coated in an extremely moreish blend of salt and herbs. Needless to say he ate then all!

We took a little breather between our mains and deserts and chatted to our waitress Jodi. She explained a little about the house and its history. It’s a truly fantastic building with so much character.

For dessert it was no brainer for me; ‘Chocolate Fondant with Salted Caramel Sauce’. The chocolate fondant was a delight. It oozed with a gooey molten chocolate centre and the salted caramel sauce was the perfect addition to this indulgently good dish.

Kevin decided on a trio of homemade ice creams. His flavours of choice were ‘Vanilla and Cardamom’,’ Strawberry’ and a tangy ‘Apple Sorbet’. The ice creams were incredible. The vanilla was creamy and smooth with a gorgeous twist of cardamom. The strawberry ice cream was delicately rolled in frozen strawberries which gave it a lovely texture and an extra touch of sweetness.  The finale of his trio was the Apple Sorbet. It tasted like eating frozen apple pie – delicious! As I am sure you can tell, I helped him sample all the ice creams. They were amongst some of the best ice cream flavours I’ve tried – and that’s saying something!

Overall we had a truly lovely evening, the food was wonderful, Jodi was the perfect hostess and we’d both highly recommend it. It’s a fabulous place to go for a culinary treat with friends or equally for a romantic meal. 

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