A 3AA star treat at Humphry’s, Stoke Park
A stylish, relaxed, grown-up 3AA restaurant in one of the most luxurious hotels in Buckinghamshire - and no, you don't need to stay there to enjoy it!
How does a Grade 1 listed Palladian mansion suit you? This 3 AA star rosette restaurant, exec cheffed by Great British Menu’s Chris Wheeler sits in splendour within Stoke Park, the five star hotel and country club in leafy Stoke Poges, south Bucks. To reach the mansion you drive past the golf course, made famous by 007 when Sean Connery played a round with Goldfinger) and the lake where Bridget Jones and Daniel Cleaver messed around in that little rowing boat.
The hotel itself boasts a world class spa, sporting and golf facilities, but Humphry’s deserves its own spotlight – if you sit by one of the glorious floor-to-insanely-high ceiling windows, you’ll get an exquisite view out across the gardens and lake and also see the bridge designed by one Humphry Repton – the restaurant’s namesake, who was the last great landscape designer of the eighteenth century.
With its pale cream interiors, chandeliers and carpets, Humphry’s exudes a luxe, refined ‘special occasion’ vibe but the recent addition of animal print cushions hints at a more relaxed approach than you’d expect.
Though it’s not the place for drop-in family dining (no kids in Humphry’s haha!) the restaurant avoids being stuffy – its largely European, super-professional staff take their jobs seriously but are also not afraid to share a joke.
Every table was taken on the night I ate, mostly with hotel guests I think as it was a Friday, though if you’re local-ish or looking for somewhere a bit ‘wow’ to eat, non-guests are definitely welcome too. ‘Buzzy’ might be over-egging it but there was definitely a very pleasant energy to the room.
SCOFF AND QUAFF
Three AA rosettes don’t lie, sister. The food here is really excellent. Chef Chris Wheeler (above) has been at Stoke Park for 14 years, become something of a celeb himself over that time, what the TV gigs and now bringing out his cookbook The Ginger Chef. But you’ll still find him most days in the small basement kitchen (I’ve seen it, trust me, it’s Hobbit proportions) creating incredible modern British dishes.
You can go on a deep dive into the 7 course tasting menu but frankly I don’t have the stamina these days so a la carte worked fine for me, starting with herb-crusted scallops, parsnip puree, black radish and samphire – beautifully plated, with the samphire the perfect foil to the sweetness of the puree.
I tend to order food I don’t cook at home so it was Venison Saddle, Potato Terrine, Brussel Sprouts, Jerusalem Artichoke Purée and Pink Peppercorn Jus for mains.
An absolute pleasure to eat this – rich but not cloying, the venison cooked to perfection (on the rare side of medium rare – or as I like to call it Medium Rare Rare!), and can I also say how much I loved seeing brussell sprouts on the menu away from Christmas – seriously, I think they’re the most underrated veg in the country.
Mr M and I are basically addicted to frommage in all its forms so it was the shared cheeseboard platter for dessert, though I was pretty tempted by the passion fruit soufflé and rhubarb panna cotta both nearly hooked me.
OUT AND ABOUT
If the 300 acres of grounds aren’t enough for you, take a 10 minute drive to the stunning Burnham Beeches nature reserve – you can spend hours happily walking there. Black Park is also close, with a more organised offering for smaller kids (a huuuuge playground), bike hire and a pretty lake to walk around. Bekonscot Model Village is around a xx inute drive if you want to take your kids to the world in miniature. Your nearest chichi shopping destination is Beaconsfield, about 20 minutes away
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those looking for accessible fine dining –if you can’t afford to stay the night, just book in for dins only (Thurs to Sunday).
Not for: Family foodies – though Stoke Park is very family friendly, little people are persona non gratis at Humphry’s. Those looking for a city-style buzz – the elegant surrounds makes Humphry’s a classy choice but not a lively one and its no trainers and t-shirts here which some may balk at.
££: Not cheap of course, but good value for what you get. A three course à la carte meal is £68 without wine.
Humphry’s, Stoke Park Country Club, Hotel & Spa, Park Road, Stoke Poges, Bucks, star . Tel:01753717171. Closed all day Mon-Weds, dinner only Thurs-Sun 7 – 10pm.
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