It was supposed to be a lazy day in Stamford on my week off and a chance to see what all the fuss was about at The William Cecil, having featured it in a Food and Drink page piece on Spring menus recently.
But never one to miss an opportunity, I thought I would review the place and share a few thoughts on the experience - a very favourable one at that and the best meal out we have had in a long time.
Now, I have to hold my hands up and admit I have been put off visiting in the past because the place had a reputation for being a bit stuffy, certainly in its days as The Lady Anne.
Now, while it is certainly quite grand both inside and out, and what you might call refined or classy, it is also very relaxed which came as a relief when we turned up with two small children for company.
And the staff were ever so accommodating and friendly.
There is a nice bar and a couple of attractive dining areas, not least the conservatory at the back, where we ate, and a pleasant patio area.
As far as the menus go, there is plenty of choice, all very tempting, but uncomplicated dishes with a great emphasis on local produce - and you’ll find all their suppliers on the website.
Not surprisingly (check out some of the dishes I have listed) we were spoilt for choice and could easily have picked out our starters and mains blindfolded and not been disappointed.
For me, pan seared breast of wood pigeon with roasted root vegetables and confit garlic puree.
The meat was nice and pink and very tasty, I loved what they did with the diced vegetables, and the puree was subtle and very smooth yet garlicy.
Donna was taken by the combination of flavours from the beetroot cured mackerel fillet, pickled baby vegetables, pickled cucumber and cashew nut salad.
I have a new-found liking for liver (thanks to Dameon Clarke at The Wicked Witch) so the pan seared calves liver was a no brainer and I wasn’t disappointed. Absolutely beautifully cooked pieces of meat that, and I know it is an old cliche, just melted away.
The champ potato was thick with a lively taste of onion, the red cabbage was spicy and still had a little crunch, the prosciutto on top was sweet and crisp while the red wine reduction just blended in with all the flavours so well.
The tempura fried mussels which came with Donna’s excellent pan seared fillet of Rutland water trout were outstanding, and the crisp, sugar snap and broad bean salad brought a real freshness to the meal.
With so much to choose from on the dessert menu we decided to try the lot on the sharing platter – dark chocolate torte, duck egg custard tart, iced peanut butter parfait, rhubarb panna cotta, sloe gin jelly, mascarpone ice cream - not to mention a sensational sticky and crunchy homemade honeycomb. Not only were they all excellent but it has to be a contender for best looking dish of the year.
Venue: The William Cecil, St Martins, Stamford; Tel 01780 750 070 www.thewilliamcecil.co.uk
Brad’s Rating: 9
King prawn & avocado roulade, lime yoghurt, cayenne pepper & orange syrup, confit celery £7.95
Smoked mackerel pate, fresh dill & watercress salad, crisp rye bread £7.50
Salt cured brisket of Longhorn beef, Waldorf salad, fried quail’s egg £7.95
Tempura battered whole soft shell crab, red chilli & ginger salsa, lime crème fraiche £9.95
Rioja braised new season Southdown lamb, chorizo & roasted garlic cassoulet, sautéed Jersey royals £17.50
Sautéed wild mushroom & garlic gnocchi, cream of parsley sauce, fresh truffle, boiled quails egg (v) £14.95
Confit leg of Gressingham duck, sweet potato & orange rosti, Valhrona chocolate & red wine reduction £18.00
Pan seared proscuitto wrapped monkfish tail, basmati rice, scorched baby fennel, curried veloute £16.95
Fillet of smoked haddock, bubble & squeak Scotch egg, parsley veloute £14.95
Rutland bitter battered Atlantic haddock, hand cut chips, crisp watercress, tartare sauce, scorched lemon £12.95
Lunch & Dinner menu served 12noon - 2.30pm & 6pm - 9.30pm Monday to Saturday, and 12noon – 3pm & 6pm - 9pm Sunday.