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Reviews of Old House Hotel and Restaurant, Wickham

Best rates for a Local Hotel

Review by LDW on 18th February, 2013

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What a fabulous place this is. The Old House is a grand brickbuilt building facing onto the large market square of Wickham. The Old House has been very sensitively brought up to modern standards without losing its historic character. It all starts well with the lovely warm welcome from Vicki and Dawn. Nothing is too much trouble. The rooms are individual and atmospheric, each with its own character, many with their old beams exposed. One has a four-poster, the one opposite has a period fireplace, the one at the back is beautifully appointed with the sun pouring in through its windows. If you're very sensitive to noise, you might want to ask for a back room away from the square, but we had no such problems. There are also garden rooms away from the main building which are equally lovely. Downstairs is a comfortable panelled sitting area, and bar for pre-dinner drinks. Don't go mad though, because the wine list is amazing! Dinner is served at the back in a beautiful conservatory. The food is smashing, using many local and seasonal ingredients, and to a standard that would not shame a Michelin-starred restaurant. Luckily, it hasn't got a star (yet!) or we wouldn't be able to afford to eat there! Chef Daniel has really got his ducks in a row. The food is beautifully presented - the kind of thing some people take pictures of - so one worries that flavours might be neglected. But no - the taste matches the first impression. The restaurant staff are as lovely and welcoming as the reception. They actually treat you like a person, not a faceless 'client'. There's a warm and easy atmosphere with all the people here that is utterly charming. The wine list has something for every purse. The top end of it will drain your wallet and you won't feel a thing - except a delicious warm glow at the back of the throat. But if you're on a budget, the ordinary wine list hasn't got a duff thing on it. Enjoy! I have had a lot of hotel breakfasts. Nearly always they put some halfwit on to cook breakfasts who warms up something from the freezer in the microwave. 'Cooked breakfast' is presented as if it were a treat - but so often disappoints. Not here. The scrambled egg is silky. The sausages are from a proper butcher. The bacon is bursting with flavour. The mushrooms actually taste of mushroom. So a couple of nights here left us absolutely de-stressed, and ready to face the world. This is how ALL hotels should be. Already booked in again for March 2013!

Date visited: Nov 2012

Review by Paula on 18th February, 2013

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Whilst enjoying our Valentine's Day dinner last week, we were trying to remember how many times we'd been to the Old House Hotel. A large number, certainly. This wonderful place is one of our favourites. The main reason for our enthusiasm is simple- this is a gem of a place, where the menu changes regularly and is always very, very good. For those wishing to spend the night, the accommodation is also pretty comfortable and this hotel really is a cute, boutique, friendly place to chill out in the heart of what is a beautiful village. Our Valentine's meal last week was everything we had hoped it would be- we started with the scallops and the ham hock terrine respectively, and both were excellent, particularly the terrine. Next up was a lovely little 'bloody mary' granita, served as a palate cleanser in between dishes with a celery garnish and possessing a real kick which contrasted beautifully with the sweetness of the tomato. For mains, my husband had a beautifully succulent lamb dish whilst I had a creamy risotto topped with crisp fillets of sea bream. Finally, dessert: a wonderfully liquid chocolate fondant for me, and the cheese platter for him. All in all, a lovely meal. We will always have a very soft spot for this charming hotel, not least because we were sufficiently impressed on our first visit to book our wedding there (the wedding was awesome, by the way- we'd recommend it!). But that was over 18 months ago and what keeps us coming back is the sheer quality of the food on offer, the comfort and understated elegance of the rooms and- last but certainly not least- the warm welcome. Highly recommended!

Date visited: 14 February 2013

Review by Amy and Nick on 4th June, 2008

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Having picked the Old House as the ideal-looking spot for some rest and relaxation as well as a good meal, my partner and I could not have been more disappointed. The menu read like the choice to be found in a Michelin one star: impressive sounding local produce and a nice variety. My partner chose the Fois Gras and I the Cheddar Cheese soufflé for our starters. The Fois Gras was pan-fried (not stated on the menu) and a particularly sinewy cut, and the soufflé tasted a bit like the melted cheese on a Welsh Rarebit only more sickly. The main courses, Fillet of Trout with a Bacon risotto and speciality Steak with hand cut chips were a disaster. The risotto was over salted, leaving the delicate trout overwhelmed and sticky, and, shockingly, for a restaurant that is “sisters “ with the famous Rowley’s steak house in London the steak was equal at best to a Bernie Inn. One good note, the chips were delicious. The dessert we ordered was a so-called passion fruit sorbet; sadly what we received was a barely edible, acidic ice-cream. To add insult to injury, the Pouilly Fume was third rate, which is unforgivable on a wine list that flaunts a Haut Brion 98. The bill was in keeping with the style and pretentiousness of the menu, but an affront when associated with the meal we were presented with. For people who love to eat and have no problem paying for fresh, well made food we can certainly state, as the Americans like to say that we were robbed. Having complained the next day for various reasons not all to do with the meal, we were told that “All we can do is apologize”. I reckon that the Old House Hotel could have done quite a lot more.

Date visited: June 3 2008

Review by Adrian Copeland on 11th February, 2008

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After visiting the restaurant a year ago for a family occasion, we took the opportunity to go again after driving down from London, depositing the small person with my parents and looking forward to a rare night out (together). The building is as impressive as ever, the friendly welcome, the door being opened for us was a wonderful way to start. A glass of champagne at the bar hinted of a wonderful experience the menu small but varied offered a good choice, Pigeon & Chestnuts starter for me the better half deciding to abstain and enjoy a dessert later. Red mullet and scallop ravioli for Julia and T-bone (medium rare) for me. As soon as we sat the pigeon was served (didn’t have time to unfold the napkin), the small tomatoes tasted fishy, chestnut purees resembled watery baby food and was insipid, pickled walnuts which were far from, the pigeon looked as if it was killed by a large blunt object and the promise of it being seared was a distant memory unless it was seared in an industrial furnace. Next onto the main: The Red Mullet & Scallop Ravioli, with such a delicate fish not needing much to do to it was cooked until almost dry, the ravioli on the other hand appears was only shown the boiling water and far to “al dente”. This was sent back the returning dish the pasta the same as before, fish steaming and near perfect, steamed vegetables spaghetti a tad to crunchy. The T-bone steak (from Aubrey Allen) was just that a steak, thick cup chips were not as described, they looked like they had been poached in cool oil and were not large or thicker that a normal chip. The funny thing if you were to look at the meal as funny was that you only had 6 (thick cup chips????) and a bowl of wedges masquerading as chips which also could have been submerged into hotter oil for longer. Small hollowed out tomatoes filled with horseradish reminded me of days gone by. The desserts were ordered; Chocolate & Coffee and cheese for me. Nothing to remarkable to say about them, but then again nothing unkind to say either. The service was at its best, lacking in the basics, water not poured, wine not refilled, side plate cleared after first course, not offered any more bread (which was very good). After the red mullet was returned the first response was to deduct it from the bill?? This it seems to show that we were not the only couple to have trouble with the food quality. The cheese course for me was put down, not placed and no explanation (which is which) was offered until I asked. The bread which was requested to accompany the course seemed slightly toasted on one side which may be the result of it sitting under the hot lights in the kitchen. A good bottle of red was decanted into a fantastic decanter which could also double for a super size glass, should you wish to. The real let down was the kitchen which could not properly grasp the fine art of temperature control, it is so easy to let the surrounds cloud the experience but with this great stone around its neck the “Old House Hotel” has some work to do indeed. By the way my first review and I wish it could have been more positive.

Date visited: 9-02-08

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