The Park Restaurant, Ufford Park
Review date: June 2013
TEE SIDE TREATS
Well known for its Golf and Spa facilities, Lesley Rawlinson visits The Park Restaurant at Ufford Park Woodbridge Hotel to sample the menu
I like people watching. OK so some may describe it as nosiness and I suppose that to a degree it comes with the territory, but I mean just that chance to casually observe others while they go about enjoying their lives. We all have different wants and needs, different priorities and interests and these days families are generally of all shapes and sizes and so from the comfort of the bar, enjoying a pre-dinner drink with my friends, it was no surprise to see a broad spectrum of folks making the most of the superb facilities at Ufford Park Woodbridge.
There was certainly a family making the most of the half term break - young children, impeccably behaved, recounting the adventures of the day to their parents. A large family group that appeared to be celebrating a birthday, a golfing four ready to enjoy an evening meal after a hard day on the course and more than one business person relaxing for the evening. Like us there were also other smaller groups and couples, all able to find a comfy sofa, bar side seat or table to enjoy the view.
That accessibility, the ‘open to all’ attitude and space to enjoy the surroundings is, for me, key to enjoying Ufford Park. Whether resident, visiting to use the spa or golfing facilities or just casually using the bar and restaurant there’s an ease that envelopes you.
The hotel is set in 120 acres of stunning park land and as we moved through to the restaurant to take up our table in the Park Restaurant our window seats made the most of the view across the Golf Course. It had been quite a grey day but almost on cue the sun broke through the clouds flooding the green vista with soft evening light reminding us that mid-summer’s not far away.
Head Chef, Paul Flowerdew, has cleverly created a menu that matches the many and various needs of his guests. The table d’hote menu, chargrill menu and specials ensure a broad choice and our only issue was narrowing down the deliciously described dishes to those we were going to order.
The gent in our party had already declared that he couldn’t pass up a ‘cream soup’ and as Chef’s cream of tomato was at the top of the Specials list his starter was an easy choice. Not so simple for us girls though. Smoked chicken and chorizo salad tossed in pesto dressing came close to being ordered as did smoked haddock, cream cheese and chive timbale or the crayfish tails with sour cream and dill dressing. In the end it was local asparagus drizzled with clarified butter for my friend and grilled goats cheese on a bed of roasted red onions finished with basil oil and served with warm pitta for me. I absolutely love cheese but sometimes shy away from goats cheese as a starter as I sometimes find it too strong at this stage of the meal, however this dish was light and relatively mild and the flavours blended to really waken my palate ready for the next course.
Chef Paul has a reputation for making the most of local ingredients, even on the scale necessary at a sizeable hotel resort like Ufford Park and the Suffolk asparagus was no exception, a perfect seasonal choice. With the soup also described as a treat it was time to enjoy the main course.
Now here is where the choices became even trickier with all three of us undecided as there were so many inviting options. I really quite fancied one of the vegetarian options – roasted aubergine, courgemozzarella pasta but was a little concerned that knowing the portions are generous it might be a bit ambitious, so instead I headed for a lighter fish option and ordered halibut served on a bed of spinach with sorrel sauce and sauté potatoes. Again the flavour combinations were magnificent and I’d certainly order that option again; delicious.
After a toss-up between a rump steak or oven roasted lamb in redcurrant gravy my friend eventually took another meaty option; Waveney Valley green gammon steak with a fried egg, beer battered onion rings, grilled tomato, flat mushroom and chips. She had the option to swap the chips for a jacket potato if required but after a long hard day declared that the extra calories had well and truly been earned! Beautifully tender and fabulously presented this dish too went down a treat.
So to our third diner and another decision – whether to opt for the Sirloin with peppercorn tte, beef tomato and sauce from the daily specials, sample the Waveney Valley burger from the chargrill or go for the eventual winner; chicken supreme in creamy pesto and bacon sauce with fondant potato and fine beans. I have to admit to a little food envy when this dish arrived – the artistic presentation was matched with flavoursome ingredients cooked to perfection.
Even though I’d chosen a slightly lighter option I was beaten by the time the dessert menu arrived and instead enjoyed a coffee while my fellow diners enjoyed an indulgent dish of the prettiest chocolate orange cheesecake with chocolate sauce and a mouth- watering mountain of profiteroles. If I’d been in the game I think I’d have opted for lemon torte with lemon and poppy seed ice cream as a fresh clean end to the feast. Clearly I’ll have to make a return journey. Mind you, I could always pop in for a cup of Paddy & Scott’s and a slice of cake when I’m next passing… or even Afternoon Tea…