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AA Notable Wine List 2016 - 2017
AA rating

About this rating

Restaurants are awarded from 1 to 5 Rosettes for culinary excellence. One Rosette restaurants are highly recommended in a local area and five Rosettes have reached the pinnacle of culinary excellence at a world class level.

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Simple but powerfully effective country-house cooking

AA Inspector

At a glance

Open all year
Vegetarian menu
Private dining
Wines by the glass
Wheelchair access
Service charge

From first sight of the round ornamental pond and properly barbered gardens, you know you're in for more than a touch of class. Built in the 1880s by a brewing magnate for his hunting parties, Hambleton was bequeathed on its first owner's demise to his redoubtable younger sister, Eva Astley Cooper, who oversaw, mostly from a recumbent position on a mattress before the fire, a glittering social set that included Noël Coward, Malcolm Sargent and Charles Scott Moncrieff, translator of Proust. The British fondness for a stately home with a past has kept the wind in Hambleton's sails, and under its chef of a quarter-century's standing, Aaron Patterson, the old place still exerts a potent pull. A minty-green lounge with period furniture and paintings is the perfect preparation (if it's too chilly for the terrace, that is) for a transit to the interlinked shell-pink dining rooms. Here, you can look out serenely over the gardens and the backdrop of Rutland Water, and staff look after you with impressive attention to detail. Patterson's cooking has simplified in latter years, and the result is dishes that achieve even greater impact than their undoubtedly successful predecessors. The menu was always written in defiantly unflorid prose, its decorative drawings of feathers altogether a delight in themselves, leaving the dishes to speak for themselves. Caramelised mackerel gets star billing in a starter salad with blood-orange and lovage for contrasts, while a serving of white crabmeat is bursting with marine freshness, topped with a tomatoey foam and balanced by a wondrously intense celery sorbet. That might be followed by a piece of thoroughbred Lincolnshire beef fillet that is initially cooked on the bone for full flavour development. Its accompaniments of smoked bone marrow, horseradish mayonnaise and concentrated red wine sauce add the requisite layers, and garnishes of crosnes, sprouting broccoli and nasturtium root are spot-on. Then again, there could be superb local lamb in rosemary livery with a serving of vivid piperade creating a sunny Gascon atmosphere. Fish might be fillet of turbot with chervil roots in a sauce amalgamated from verjus and buttermilk, or red mullet with artichoke on golden saffron risotto, while desserts reimagine modern favourites, such as the tiramisù that comes as Amaretto-soaked flourless sponge with a crisp chocolate coating and airy chocolate mousse, or create new ones, when pear and blackberries are fashioned into a terrine, served with silky caramel ice cream. Cheeses are served with the in-house Hambleton bakery's bread, which is not to be missed at any cost. Accompanying the whole deal is a wine list of commanding authority, overseen by a courteous sommelier whose recommendations can be followed with confidence. There are French classics in abundance, but good selections from elsewhere too.

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Opening hours

  • Open all year
  • Lunch served from: 12
  • Lunch served until: 1.30
  • Dinner served from: 7
  • Dinner served until: 9.30

Chef

  • Chef: Aaron Patterson

Food and drink

  • Cuisine style: British
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Wines under £30: 30
  • Wines over £30: 200+
  • Wines by the glass: 10

Price guide

  • Service charge
  • Credit cards accepted

Accessibility

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Steps for wheelchair: 2
  • Assist dogs welcome

Facilities

  • Seats: 60
  • Private dining available
  • Private dining seats: 20
  • On-site parking available

Additional information

  • Seats: 60
  • Private dining available
  • Private dining seats: 20

Getting here

8 miles west of A1 Stamford junction (A606), 3 miles east of Oakham

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Nearest train station

Oakham
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