Great style, great food, Great Fosters | Great Fosters hotel and Tudor Room restaurant, Stroude Road, Egham, Surrey TW20 9UR
Weekends away for us usually consist of a certain style of hotel – modern, sleek and bursting full of all the mod-cons that we wish we could have in our own home. Great Fosters hotel in Egham is the total opposite of what we are usually attracted to. This former royal hunting lodge dates back to 1550 AD and is dripping in Downton Abbey style grandeur, with dark creaking hallways and even darker bedrooms.
Our huge Panel II room (£330 per room including breakfast) in the main house came complete with a four-poster bed cloaked in burgundy red. No cosy duvets here, layers of sheets and a wafer-thin quilt complete the oldfangled feel. A special mention to the toilet in our bedroom. I can only describe it as a more majestic commode (that thankfully flushes). Elsewhere in the bathroom amongst the pot pourri, was a generous supply of Molton Brown miniatures, this always bodes well.
We pottered around the almost creepy hallways and emerged outside in the beautiful gardens. There are fifty acres of land to explore, we settled for a short leisurely walk around the serene lake, dotted with interesting and slightly bizarre sculptures. The heated outdoor pool was open for its last day before closing for the winter. A lone couple taking a dip trying to encourage us to join them, alarms bells rang for Ade (this is Surrey after all) so we opted for a drink instead.
The cocktail bar was undergoing a refurb during our stay, but luckily drinks can still be found at the Estate Room Grill’s bar, the other more ‘simple’ restaurant at Great Fosters. A Ginger Mule for Ade and a Spiced Mango Martini with a real kick for me. We decided to sip our cocktails outside and take in the views, patio heaters and blankets provided to snuggle under added a touch of autumnal cosiness.
Our plans of an afternoon kip before dinner were set back slightly by the cocktails and the Arsenal vs Swansea City match… Before we knew it it was time for dinner in the Tudor Room – the small and intimate restaurant of just 24 covers, headed up by Shane Hughes. Shane has earnt himself a Michelin Star at Ynyshir Hall in Wales, so we were expecting great things.
There is the choice of an a la carte menu, or an eight-course tasting menu (£75 per person). We were lucky enough to try the latter and it was one of the most incredible meals we’ve ever had. One word of warning though, if you opt for the wine flight to accompany this do NOT drink any alcohol previously. You may well not make it down for breakfast the next day, or be capable of doing much at all the next day…
So we were guided through a stunning eight courses, not including some individual foie gras, salmon and cheese balls, homemade bread with luscious beef dripping butter, and of course an amuse bouche – it wouldn’t be fine dining without one. Every dish wowed us not just with their good looks, but with leaping flavours and sensory surprises. From Cannelloni of Pig’s Ear and root vegetables with the tangiest most delicious tomato fondue that made our taste buds burst with excitement. There was a choice of main course, I had the succulent Loin of fallow deer, artichoke barigoule, butternut squash, brasied red cabbage and a bitter chocolate sauce.
Ade was left with the remaining option – Red leg partridge with confit duck, celeriac and foie gras crispy pancake, brussel leaves and chicory endive. Ade’s not usually a big fan of game meat but he loved the combo of rich bird and earthy root vegetables.
My cheese allergy* was taken into consideration in the kitchen, minor adjustments were made to a couple of dishes so I could still enjoy them. It made a welcome change from being told I won’t enjoy dishes without the dreaded stuff. Talking of cheese, Ade’s eyes nearly popped out of his head when he was presented with his cheese course. A board with ten little chunks of cheese and biscuits, Kilner jars of truffle honey and the more potent cheeses that stunk the room out the moment the lid popped open. It even came complete with a little list of which was which. The idea being you work your way up from the milder to the more punchier cheeses. Again I wasn’t left out, I was presented with a salad with celery and a zesty sauce.
Dessert is more often that not becoming the highlight for me. The dessert I had in the Tudor Room will stay in my head for a very long time. The Asian Forest was a masterpiece and the world must know about it, almost too beautiful to eat, the lemongrass marshmallow mushrooms melted in my mouth, the galangal ice cream was heaven and the green tea meringue added a bitter-sweet crunch. Ade had the American style cheesecake with peanut utter brittle and butterscotch ice cream but I could see the envy in his eyes over the beauty of mine. It was as if Shane had devised and personalised these two desserts just for us.
We slunk off to bed for a peaceful nights sleep. Unfortunately I missed out on breakfast due to over indulging, so Ade went down alone for a satisfying full English and copious amounts of coffee served in cute pewter jugs whilst I ‘rested’. What a hotel, and what a meal, and all just a short drive away off the M25. A perfect luxurious and indulgent night, we can see why this hotel is a hit with weddings, it is very special indeed, we’d return in a heartbeat.
*If anyone knows any good hypnotists who could cure me of my hatred of cheese, do get in touch!
Stroude Road, Egham, Surrey TW20 9UR
Telephone: 01784 433822
Opening Hours: Tues-Fri 12pm-2pm
Tues-Sat 7pm-9.30pm (sat 6.30pm)
Nearest station: Egham