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Cloche Hat Restaurant (Chobham)
Member Name: grahamt
Cloche Hat Restaurant (Chobham)
Date: 21/02/08, updated on 22/02/08 (195 review reads)
Advantages: Excellent food, service and atmosphere
Disadvantages: Expensive wine list
So, it's St Valentines Day once again and so a celebration will be required. Apart from the "Always Acceptable" bubbly, chocolates and flowers, as with Mother's Day (yes, that's creeping up on us again isn't it?) my beloved can hardly be expected to prepare the evening meal. This is as good as any excuse to find somewhere convivial and enjoyable where we can be treated in the manner we would wish.
There are no shortages of good restaurants in our area and we have sampled many of them. This has enabled us to compile a list of favourites and some of these I have reviewed here on Dooyoo. The decision on occasions such as this is whether to go for a well-known and reliable destination or whether to try somewhere completely new. The risk, of course, of trying somewhere new is of disappointment, especially on a special occasion.
This year I admit that it had been my intention to go to a previously tried and tested restaurant. I had been out shopping at B&Q and was heading across country in the general direction of Englefield Green and the Edwinns located there just behind Saville Gardens. I was passing through the little village of Chobham, which itself has a few restaurants we have tried, and was heading out of the other end towards Sunningdale when out of the corner of my eye, on the left side of the road, I spotted a very attractive looking place. It called itself the "Cloche Hat".
The building is set on a bend in the road and is easy to miss. I had to turn around and come back to it myself. It has a large car park surrounding the main building on two sides. The main building is clearly old, being a traditional timber frame with white plaster infill. It has been extended on one side and although clearly more modern is not out of keeping with the style of the original. The entrance is low so tall folks will need to duck. Inside the ceiling height maintains the feeling of cosiness.
To the right is the bar and waiting area whilst to the left, in the extension, is the main dining area. The whole feel of the place is attractive and the tables are placed sufficiently apart as to provide a sense of privacy. I would estimate that 50 and 100 could be accommodated at a sitting, depending on the number sharing a table. It didn't feel crowded though, even though this was obviously going to be a very popular night.
Normally you would arrange your meal for a time convenient to you but on special occasion such as this the Cloche Hat adopts a fairly common practice of having two sittings at fixed time, with a set menu. The Cloche Hat has sittings at 7.00pm amd 9.00pm. We chose the earlier.
Although a fixed menu, there was still a good range of choice. Included was a glass of pink champagne to sip whilst making your choice. Following this I chose from an extensive wine menu a bottle of Morgon, a Beaujolais from one of the classic wine-producing villages of that region.
The first of the three courses offered such variations as "Goat's cheese and spiced pear", "French onion soup" and a "Duck terrine". I chose the "Warm crab and saffron tartlet" and my wife the "Risotto of smoked chicken and wild mushroom". Both were delicious (we usually try a little of each other's) and well presented although the actual size of the tartlet could have been a little larger, but then I suppose that's why it's a tartlet rather than a tart! It was a starter after all.
For our main course my wife couldn't resist the "Seabass fillets" whilst I opted for the "Crisp roasted breast of duckling". Also on offer was "Braised leg of lamb", "Pancetta wrapped pork fillet" and "Provencal tomato tart" as the vegetarian choice. The duck came with creamed cabbage and bacon and, unusually, a sweet potato puree. My wife's seabass came with "baby spinach", asparagus and a lemon grass cream.
Once again, both dishes were delicious, well presented and adequate in quantity. The duck was rare, as I like it, but still very tender. Both went well with our chosen wine.
Finally, for dessert, we decided against the crème brulee as, since I had a proper one with real West Country clotted cream, as opposed to the usual custard cream, I have never found them satisfying. I may be doing the Cloche Hat an injustice; that may be how they do theirs, I never asked. I never asked because also on the menu was "Lemon meringue pie" and you will all know from my recent review exactly how I feel about lemon meringue pie. My wife chose the "Rich dark chocolate tart".
The chocolate tart was superb; rich but not sickly. My lemon meringue pie was good but sadly not as good as it could have been. The filling was a little like a custard rather than a proper set filling like I like it. The taste, however, could not be faulted. It was served with a real vanilla ice cream.
Throughout our meal, service was excellent; never to intrusive but always there to make sure that you were enjoying the experience. The menu was a shade under £40 per person. A 12.5% gratuity charge was added.
The wine was potentially the most expensive part of the meal. The wine list is extensive but there is little choice below £20 and most bottles are in the £30 to £50 range. Our Morgon was just under £30 and, although as good an example of the variety as I have found anywhere, I must admit that I did feel that this was one part of the experience that was a little over-priced. However, if you are into expensive wines then this is a good place to come! When you have flipped through the pages and gasped at some of the prices you then finally come to the "Connoisseur" wines. Don't ask!!!!!!!
Having said that, we very much enjoyed our visit to the Cloche Hat and the prices would not put us off going again on an appropriate occasion. It's certainly not for a regular evening, not unless you're a lot richer than we are, but for such celebrations as these, the experience is well worth while.
Summary: A very pleasant venue for a special occasion