Matt Worswick at The Latymer, Pennyhill Park Hotel in Surrey
Last month the Michelin guide celebrated the 2020 edition awarding a record number of stars. Surprisingly, London wasn’t the driving force for this year’s success but a number of manors and resort hotels that stepped up their culinary game.
We decide to visit The Latymer at Pennyhill Park Hotel, in Surrey, near Ascot, to check out what Matt Worswick is doing. Three years ago, the chef had the responsibility of filling the shoes of Michael Wignall, who made of this restaurant one of the UK’s most respected. 18 months later, the young Liverpool talent’s food was recognised with the coveted star.
It’s lunchtime, a wedding is being celebrated next door, the guests wandering around the pretty garden. Inside the dining room, the vibe is elegant and remarkably relaxing. It’s very different from fine dining in London because people here seem to be enjoying their time without any rush.
A trio of amuse-bouches kick off our lunch. Bread and butter follow. Colchester Oyster is the first of the five-course tasting menu. The oyster emulsion is served with cured sea trout and sorrel granite. The waiter puts on the table a card with further information about the dish’s main produce: the oysters grow freely on the riverbed in Pyefleet Creek and even the Romans were so impressed that they would tow nets of them back to Rome with their ships.
The salt-baked celeriac comes with rémoulade, lovage and black truffle. The latter – a Périgord variety – comes from Australia which, according to the handy card, has become the fourth largest producer in the world of truffle.
When the Arabs brought rice to Sicily in the 14th century, they figured that it would be the perfect environment to grow short-grain rice. This is the premise for the next course, a wild mushroom risotto with malt vinegar and parmesan.
We also try the alternative course (for a supplement), a jaw-dropping Grade A Rougié Foie Gras. The liver escalope is sautèed with Maribelle plum and marigold. It’s refined and luscious. The main course is a wonderful Goosnargh duck – roasted – served with seared liver, Waldford salad and wholegrain mustard jus. They show it to us before carving it. “An unhappy bird is a tough bird, a happy bird is a tasty bird,” the late Reg Johnson, producer of these ducks, used to say.
With 26 different options, the cheese trolley is one that doesn’t go unnoticed. Of course we have to try the Lancashire Bomb, made from a pasteurised cow’s milk. Other highlights from our selection are the Bath Blue and the Gubben from Ireland. Finally, we have the Baba au Rhum with passion fruit, Alphonso mango and lemon verbena.
Easy to reach from London, Matt Worswick’s restaurant is a safe haven for anyone who wants disconnect from the urban stress and enjoy a refined meal in a thoroughly relaxing setting.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Matt Worswick at The Latymer, Pennyhill Park Hotel London Road Surrey GU19 5EU, call 012 7648 6150 or visit their website here.