Food and Drink July 5, 2012
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Shendish Manor - The Orangery Restaurant
Location: London Road, Apsley, HP3 0AA [map]
Phone: 01442232220
Open: Mon-Sun 12.30pm- 2.30pm, 7pm-9.30pm

Shendish Manor Hotel and Restaurant is an impressive manor house set in 200 beautiful acres. On arrival, we were welcomed into a convivial bar area with lounge seating where diners relaxed, sipping on their pre-dinner drinks. The Orangery Restaurant is located on the ground floor and decked out with panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the beautifully-kept grounds. Although the setting and service is formal, the ambience is pleasantly informal and on our visit there was a mixed clientele of diners - all overseen by a calm and professional maitre d'. The European menu is inventive and delicious, consisting of a set table d'hote option or à la carte. We selected from both and were superbly rewarded with favoured French classics served just as they should be. The chef's imaginative touches in all dishes showed a real creative flair for flavour combinations.

From the table d'hote menu, which offered a choice of two or three courses, we chose poached duck egg set on toasted brioche, resting on a glossy, peppery watercress salad enlivened by fresh horseradish and an excellent dressing. This was followed by red wine-poached skate wing - a real triumph, delicate white flesh on the inside, a darkened red wine colour on the outside, with a sublime caper and parsley butter sauce, set on perfectly al dente green beans. For dessert, a classic tarte tatin comprising plump caramelised apples on butter pastry with creme fraiche - delicious. My companion chose a starter of chicken liver foie gras parfait with poached baby figs and shiraz dressing, followed by an entrée of perfectly cooked fillet of beef with oxtail crust and lemon-roasted vegetables, both from the à la carte. To finish the meal, a classic creme brûlée with a novel twist - caramel glaze infused with absinthe. The restaurant also boasts an extensive classically-influenced wine list with some notable surprises.

Shendish Manor is ideally placed close to the busy town of Hemel Hempstead, and offers a retreat for those who wish to escape the bustle and enjoy an excellent meal overlooking classical English surroundings.

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