Restaurant review - Craxton Wood Grill, MacDonald Craxton Wood Hotel and Spa, Ledsham

PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 January 2017

MacDonald Craxton Wood Hotel and Spa

MacDonald Craxton Wood Hotel and Spa

not Archant

With two AA rosettes to its name, the Craxton Wood Grill in Ledsham will delight discerning diners , as Rebekka O’Grady discovers

Craxton Wood GrillCraxton Wood Grill

It’s not often that I would choose to dine in a hotel restaurant if I wasn’t already staying at there. The reason is, quite frankly, that I’m under the impression that many of them just aren’t good enough. They often appear as just a quick fix for guests looking for an easy food option, a few minutes walk from their room. However, the MacDonald Craxton Wood Hotel and Spa certainly shakes that perception.

Set in 27 acres of peaceful woodland, this hotel in Ledsham is a stylish destination. While we waited for our table at the Craxton Wood Grill, we enjoyed pre-dinner drinks in the elegant cocktail bar and lounge - which set the tone for the evening.

The knowledgeable barman helped my partner pick out the perfect wine, Bush Telegraph Shiraz Viognier, £8.75 a glass (which took his fancy for the rest of the evening), while I as the designated driver opted for a soft drink.

It was soon time to move through to the two AA rosette restaurant, a contemporary space which certainly didn’t scream ‘I’m at a hotel’. Instead a muted mauve colour palette set against dark wood said ‘sophisticated fine dining’ and the new winter menu certainly matched.

Craxton Wood GrillCraxton Wood Grill

Head chef Matthew Jencitis has created a menu using locally sourced ingredients that cater for traditionalists, but also dishes that entice those who aren’t afraid to try something new. We ordered a selection of freshly baked bread with sea salted butter, flavoured oils and aged balsamic (£3.95) to graze on while we waited for our first course, Jacob’s ladder.

We had both opted for the BBQ braised short rib of Scottish beef, served with confit potatoes and cabbage in a ceramic pot (£6.95). The beef was tender and the slight sweetness of the cabbage helped to level out the richness of the sauce. Short rib can sometimes be on the fatty side, but these had been braised to perfection enabling the fat to be rendered and become part of the flavour.

For my main course, I decided to go with the chef’s recommendation of the Highland venison (£22.95). I haven’t eaten a lot of venison, so was intrigued to see Matthew’s take on the rich meat. Served beautifully on my plate, it seemed a shame to cut into the culinary work of art.

Sumptuous thick slices of roasted loin melted in my mouth, the rich flavour of the venison cut though by sharp Craxton blackberries. Salt-baked celeriac and puree complimented the side of seasonal vegetables (£4) and the dainty ragout pie packed a surprising punch of a hearty venison mince filling.

My partner chose the grill’s 8oz prime beef burger on a brioche bun with skinny fries (£13.95) served with the additional toppings of Swiss cheese and BBQ pulled pork (£1.95 each). It was clear he enjoyed the burger as he insisted that I try a mouthful of the succulent beef before devouring the lot in a matter of minutes.

Sadly, although the dessert menu looked divine, we were too full to even consider ordering a third course. I guess there’s always the next time…

Craxton Wood Grill, MacDonald Craxton Wood Hotel and Spa, Parkgate Road, Ledsham, CH66 9PB. Tel:0344 879 9038

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