For many years the Hackness Grange has been among the area’s large high-end hotels, alongside the likes of the Crown Spa, the Royal and the Ox Pasture Hall. Like the latter, it enjoys an idyllic, peaceful, rural setting, amid some of the county’s best countryside.
But like many hotels of such stature, it has had its ups and downs, not least with the demise of English Rose Hotels. Last year a new owner began a renovation and upgrading programme which should stand the 19th century Georgian manor house in good stead.
The stateliness of the hotel is evident as you walk up to the enormous front door and into the lobby.
Period furniture and decorations abound, and the courteous staff add to the feel of elegance and refinement.
On arrival we were shown into the bar, complete with old leather armchairs and sofas, and then into the Derwent restaurant, crisp white linen confirming the old-fashioned sophistication. Some rather austere portraits, other paintings and large mirrors adorned the walls.
The menu is a fixed-price table d’hote offering five choices each of starter, main and dessert. For me that’s no bad thing, there’s no pondering whether the fish looks better value than the chicken, or whether to squeeze in a pudding or not (I usually can!).
Of the starters, classic smoked salmon (£3.25 extra) sounded tempting, cream of white onion and thyme was the soup choice, and there was also duo of honeydew and watermelon with apricot and ginger syrup.
But we opted for grilled crevettes (shrimps) with lemon, garlic and herb sauce, and ragout of creamy mushrooms topped with melted stilton.
The mushrooms, doused with cheese, didn’t look particularly appetising but the taste belied that, the cheese adding a sharp tang.
Main course tempters included pan seared chicken breast wrapped in bacon, Thai green vegetable curry with savoury rice, and 10 oz sirloin steak with chips and accompaniments (£8.95 extra). Our choices, though, were grilled fillet of lemon sole with a lime and prawn butter, and tender braised beef steak with a creamy peppercorn sauce. The beef was a generous portion, the peppercorn sauce a very tasty accompaniment and the neighbouring mixed roast root vegetables a pleasing addition.
The sole, topped with prawns, was nicely cooked, flaking on the fork and melting in the mouth!
For dessert my partner’s caramel and banana Eton mess was extremely rich, while I went for the raspberry and vanilla creme brulee with a chunky shortbread biscuit. The caramelised sugar crunched nicely, and the shortbread (always a favourite of mine) was particularly
The trio making up the rest were apple and raisin crumble with vanilla pod custard, forest fruits sherry trifle and cheese and biscuits served with chutney (£3.95 extra).
It wasn’t drop-dead-gorgeous food, but we enjoyed a fine meal for £24.95 each. That seemed very good value, especially when set in such wonderful surroundings.
Menu choice 7