We took ourselves down to Dorking last week to check out the new Hotel at Denbies Vineyard. The idea of waking up on Valentine’s Day with views of the vineyards definitely appealed, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. The Vineyard Hotel opened last summer and is just around the corner from the main winery. The original farmhouse on the estate, built in the 1850s, it has been fully renovated but retains its original character. The hotel has been designed in line with Denbies’ on-going commitment to environmental consideration and benefits. We had a lovely en suite room with views of the vineyards. The hotel décor has lots of vinous touches like ‘riddling rack’ wall coverings in the Orangery dining room, and bespoke barrel crafted furniture. It overlooks the vineyard and at night the surrounding trees are floodlit. It’s a lovely setting…and very romantic!
We started our dinner with a glass of Denbies Whitedowns Rosé. This NV sparkling has a pale pink hue; it was elegantly fresh, with a hint of dried cranberry and good length in the mouth. It was excellent, and rumour has it that Aldi occasionally stocks it, so I will be looking out for it! The Whitedowns white is available from Ocado (£17).
Fabulous starters of salmon pastrami, beetroot, horseradish and treacle yogurt for him, and salsify, crispy hen’s egg, tonka mayonnaise and burnt onion for me, certainly set the bar high for our mains. My venison, haggis, ‘neeps & tatties’ with baby beets were very good indeed and my husband’s cider-braised pork belly, pig’s cheek, black pudding, cavolo nero and cep ketchup was declared a triumph. I opted for the cheese plate to end my meal, while my husband enjoyed the mulled blackberries, aerated chocolate, fudge and liquorice sorbet. (I snaffled a taste of the sorbet…wow!) My cheese was served with frozen grapes, unusual, but great, and an interesting goat’s cheese brulée that would also make a good starter.
Our lovely waitress, Hazel, looked after everyone in the dining room with friendly efficiency and was still looking fresh and bright early the following morning to serve breakfast! A fabulous English breakfast with views of the vineyard made a very memorable start to Valentine’s Day. Under an hour from SW London by car and in walking distance of Dorking the hotel is also open to non-residents for dinner. Why travel to France when this is on our doorstep?