Inglewood, what a past, what a future

Ok chaps and chapesses, this is the long overdue post on The Walmesley Restaurant which is sneakily based at Inglewood in Kintbury. I had no idea it was there and was absolutely delighted when Joanne, the manager of Audley Homes asked me to try out the tasting menu. When Jo called we had a great chat, mostly about food and the deal was done.

Many years ago I won a competition and the prize was a week at Inglewood Health Hydro as it then was. It was very luxurious and may have had something to do with the decision to then move to Newbury from Kent. The only issue I had with it then was the food, it being a health hydro and all. It was nice but not plentiful, a whole week of delightful little bits of food that nearly made you think you had eaten but not quite. However I was bright enough to reccy the local M&S for their gooey chocolate fudge cake which you could get in individual slices. Just so you know you could get about 20 to make an actual cake. Which I did. Inglewood has had an interesting past, it was a private home then a seminary, in fact there are some monks buried in the garden who get visits from their brothers at St Cassians round the corner. There was a period as Inglewood Health Hydro and another period which we should probably gloss over but had something to do with saucy parties (gosh, in Kintbury!).

Inglewood looked just as it had 30 years ago (seriously, that long, how old am I?!) which was quite a feat as I later found out that the entire building had been rebuilt but the facade had remained the same according to the planning guidelines it adhered to. Inside however was a different matter. It had a huge entrance hall/reception with a double height ceiling supported by 4 original columns. Spectacular. The whole place had the air of a rather grand hotel yet it contained about 30 apartments. We were lucky enough to be shown around one by Joanne and I have to say that if I had the money I would really like to live here. The apartments themselves were beautiful, airy, with large rooms and ensuite bedrooms. Also on site is a health club and spa which people can join even if they don’t live in the Village. You can hear Jo talking about this on Kennetradio.com

Now to the food. Gert has worked in a number of places including The Vineyard and the food was imaginative and delicious. The fine dining restaurant is open on Friday and Saturday evenings and the Bistro is open every day.

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To start, breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar at one end and butter at the other, so nice to have the choice. Cold water was on the table and the service was excellent although the waiter looked a little terrified that he was serving Joanne. I should say here that Joanne was great company and I am so pleased she agreed to eat with us. She is very personable, keen to build bridges with the local community and network and was great fun to be with. A bonus to the evening I think you will agree.

 

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 The very lovely Jo, an absolute star, passionate about her work and life in general

 

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Oyster beignet over chilled tomato soup – crunchy, chewy and tasting of the sea tempered by the cool fresh tomato of the soup. Chilled soup is one of those things that I rarely think to order and the first spoonful is always a bit of a surprise but I think the same could be said for oysters so what a great match.

 

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Poached quail with potato gnocchi, carrot and star anise broth – very juicy, loved the gnocchi and could have had more of that. The broth was great, unusual with the star anise which came through strongly but it really worked well.

 

 

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Salmon and tiger prawn lasagne, spring peas, champagne and caviar sauce – oh oh how scrummy was this, the seafood was cooked to perfection, tender and flavourful and the sauce was a plate licker.

 

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Slow cook cannon of lamb, crispy lamb fillet, pressed belly, aubergine, broad beans and lamb jus – I loved this dish, I like lamb anyway and to have it done in so many ways was a treat. The belly was slowcooked then pressed and cut into a cube, you can see it hiding near the tomato. The lamb wrapped in crispy potato was something that I had never had but am now going to research, it was delicious with the soft lamb encased in a crunchy potato overcoat. Beautifully presented.

 

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 Orange salad with blood orange sorbet and dark chocolate mousse – this didn’t seem to be on the menu but Gert had decided to add it, possibly to see how far he could stretch our already groaning stomachs. I love the fact that the base was an orange salad, how healthy is that? This was of course countered by the extremely rich dark chocolate mousse that sat on top of the blood orange sorbet.

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Banana soufflé, caramelized banana and rum and raisin ice cream – ok I have to admit that at this point I had hardly a spare millimetre so passed some to the very obliging T to have a go at. The banana soufflé was light but still substantial, the ice-cream was delicious and I loved the caramelised banana. At this point Joanne was very kind in pretending not to see the soufflé I had flicked onto the tablecloth, I think by this time we were discussing the merits of different sugars and she was telling me about Steria. I did say that she was a great dining companion, full of interesting information and conversation.

 

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I rallied round a bit for the petit fours that were served in the library. My favourite were ….. no I can’t say as they were all delicious. The macorons were delicious and chocolatey, the little doughnut was incredible because it was actually made from choux pastry and was light and chewy with jam in the middle. The truffles just oozed very well bred chocolate. A perfect end.

I would highly recommend this restaurant and am looking forward to trying the Bistro. This is fine dining at a competitive price. The Walmesley also offers afternoon tea (with or without champagne) and monthly masterclasses. Do visit, you will be glad you did.

An interview with both Joanne and Gert will be on Kennetradio.com and below are a few pics of the apartment.

 frontApart 21 kitchenApart 19 front room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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