Review written by Claire Gutteridge, Local Ludlow Magazine, December 2019.
With it’s half-timber 17th century façade, built over an older building core, The Feathers Hotel is arguably Ludlow’s most distinctive building.
Its refurbishment has certainly been a case of the phoenix rising from the ashes. New owners Crest Hotels have spent an estimated £2 million on lovingly breathing life into the building’s old timbers and painstakingly preserving many original features.
Having had a pre-opening glimpse of the Hotel’s interior, I was excited to experience what the Feathers had to offer.
It couldn’t have been a more apt evening to feel the welcoming warmth of the Feathers Hotel. Having been soaked by the rain and feeling the autumnal chill, imagine the delight of being greeted by a roaring fire, comfy sofas and friendly staff. Walking in to the Feathers felt like being welcomed into a good friend’s cosy home. With snug rooms to the left and the right of the main entrance and a spacious bar area – a perfect place to dry off by the fire, aperitif in hand, while perusing the menu.
The restaurant and lounge bar menus are simple and elegant in presentation and offering. Executive Chef Wayne has chosen a few select dishes for each course. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t be spoilt for choice. There’s ample opportunity to experience a sojourn of flavours to suit any palate. Wayne brings experience from creating food worldwide, having worked for names such as Hilton and the Conrad Hotel in London.
The menu and ingredients are seasonal and as locally sourced as possible, the autumn menu featuring elements such as beetroot, butternut squash, venison, red cabbage and pears. Restaurant menu starters range from £6.50 – £9.50, main courses from £14.50 to £24.95; more than fair given the quality of dishes served. The Festive menu starts at the beginning of December and is also available on Christmas Day and New Years Eve. Booking is essential.
Upon walking into the restaurant area, you can’t help but admire the rich colour scheme, teamed with soft faux moleskin high backed chairs, exquisite place settings and gentle lighting and music. You also can’t help but feel everything about the Feathers is just right.
David, Preopening Hotel Manager regularly oversees the restaurant and with good reason. Experienced in delivering Michelin Star dining and in serving the royal family at many of their fine dining and banqueting functions, David’s standards are high and it shows; particularly in the table presentation and service.
Breads brought to the table are supplied by Bread2bake. Ours included beetroot, corn, sourdough and rye, accompanied by paprika, garlic and salted butters.
One of the curiosities of the menu was the Amuse Bouche. These petite dishes are making a comeback, allowing Chef to showcase a complimentary taster dish of their choice. Our amuse bouche was haddock and crab croquette with spinach remoulade, celeriac volute, squid ink crisp and salmon caviar. Yes, a descriptive yet delicious mouthful. Rather than screaming fish, it whispered coriander and lemon, whetting appetites for what was to come.
For our starters, we chose game terrine with caramelised fig, pear and raisin compote, taking terrine to a new level. Not even the mere hint of jelly – thank goodness, as it’s a pet hate of mine. Instead, a roll of leek edged, thick, yet delicately flavoured chunks of game, coupled perfectly with fruit and spice.
Our second starter was Goats cheese bon bons with beetroot chilli puree and balsamic roasted shallots, as sweet to look at as it is in name. Three perfect spheres of breaded mild goats cheese, balanced with sweet and sour.
Our first main was peppered loin of venison with braised red cabbage, potato terrine, butternut squash puree, juniper and re wine jus. The quality
of game used and the finesse it is cooked with means there are no heavy iron rich tones, which can sometimes hit you with venison. Beautifully pink and tender with seasonal flavour accents to compliment.
Our second main choice was traditional and non meat – Crispy skinned stonebass with braised fennel, seafood bouillabaisse and saffron aioli. Bouillabaisse is a French fish stew, flavoured with Provencal herbs and spices, derived from a traditional Provencal word, meaning to “boil and simmer” and is believed to be originate from ancient Greece. With near on a 2 inch deep fillet of stonebass served on a bed of bouillabaisse and fennel, it’s an impressive dish, one to both comfort or excite. Sides are available – one or two between two is plenty.
The Indulge menu is to finish and what a finish; everything from peanut butter parfait with almond nougat and plum jelly, to classic tart au citron. We chose one between us – vanilla crème brulee with fresh raspberry and meringue. Classic creamy, light and chewy. A cheeseboard is also available. Coffee is accompanied by macarons and truffles, a treat to be enjoyed after retiring to a comfy fireside sofa perhaps?
We chose to have sparkling water with our meal, however there was just one thing left to investigate. The eclectic wine list includes an English white, red, rose and sparkling. These are offered as their house wines, some would say a courageous move. David offered for us to sample them and we were pleasantly surprised. Of particular mention was the house red – Chapel Down Union Red. Oaky, hedgerow-esque and noticeably low in tannin. We are wine lovers, not experts and we loved this red wine.
Again word count is calling, so, have faith, put yourselves and your taste buds in the hands of the Feathers and Wayne and you must try the English wines. You will find yourself leaving with a smile – a big smile and a need to go back again and probably again.
The Feathers Hotel reviewed by Claire Gutteridge