Our superb lunch offer at Amberley Castle is back for the autumn and it’s better than ever. It gives you the opportunity to enjoy the culinary excellence of new head chef Conor Toomey with a sumptuous three course lunch plus a glass of champagne and tea and coffee for just £34.50 per person. There’s also a chance to win dinner and an overnight stay for two people.
To enter the competition and take advantage of the offer you must purchase a copy of this week’s newspaper where the entry coupons are contained!
Below is the latest review of Amberley Castle by our own Restaurant Inspector to encourage you!
The kitchens at Britain’s best hotels and restaurants come in all shapes and sizes.
But there is nothing to equal the ‘old kitchen’ at Amberley Castle.
Passing through a 900-year-old doorway chiselled into the ancient stone wall, there is little left of the original medieval kitchen except a breathtaking view.
On a small promontory off the northern flank, three of the kitchen’s walls have vanished over the centuries, leaving a glorious sweep of the wildbrooks to open gaze.
Cows meander across the flatlands and to the west the spire of Bury church peeps reassuringly up to the horizon. Glance to your right and you can see across the timeless rooftops of Amberley village itself.
On a sunny morning before breakfast there was no better place on earth to sit and read the i newspaper - the national sister title to this.
Of course, new kitchens have long since replaced this ancient piece of fairy tale magic - and at the helm is head chef Conor Toomey.
When we last visited as a family at Easter, Conor was a new arrival - and I know that some regular diners were understandably disappointed to see that his superb predecessor Robby Jenks had moved on to even greater culinary opportunities.
But as someone who has been enjoying the Castle’s fare as both a paying customer and reviewer since the early 1990s, I know that Conor’s arrival is sensationally good news.
In his brief time here, he has established his own team and when we visited for dinner and breakfast with the family last week the quality was consistent across the courses and nudging Michelin attribution.
Conor’s food is distinctively and deceptively simple. Cleanly presented plates, unfussy and unpretentious each with a focus on the star ingredient.
A starter which revolves around a humble turnip was a culinary miracle on the scale of Cinderella’s pumpkin that turned into a diamond encrusted carriage.
Frankly, the venison was sublime. Cooked pink and perfect.
The desserts are complex constructions but make a crisp, unvarnished impact on the plate. Creative enough to be visually pleasing, refined and pure so that you can savour the flavours.
And not too sweet. In an age when refined sugars are the new perceived dietary evil, Conor has avoided the pitfall.
The addition of a chocolate-based choice would have been welcome on the night we dined. But the all-British cheeseboard was so good that our son who selected it was reluctantly forced to share samples round the table. We know no shame.
Conor Toomey has a notable track record - joining the Castle from Storrs Hall Hotel in Windermere.
His one-time mentor Michael Wignall is executive head chef at Amberley’s sister hotel Gidleigh Park in Devon and the presence of both men demonstrate owner Andrew Brownsword Hotel’s commitment to investing in the best.
It’s the perfect setting for weddings and great occasions - but as we have found, it is also an oasis in a family’s busy schedule too for no other reason than to spend time together and relax.
In one of the three reception rooms where we enjoyed coffee after dinner a young and extremely affable couple were relaxing by an open fire. “We only came for afternoon tea,” he said. “But it’s just so lovely here we can’t quite bring ourselves to leave.”
So they had stayed for a bottle of champagne, and then wine - and then steak and chips as well.
All the hotel rooms were booked and we half expected to find them still in the drawing room in the morning - but we understand they abandoned their car and a taxi took them home.
The £34.50 lunch offer is a steal. Now with a glass of champagne as well as three courses and coffee and petit fours it’s unbeatable value.
And for those who enter our competition, the chance to win dinner and an overnight stay for two is a giant prize indeed.
Amberley Castle, Amberley, Nr Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9LT - www.amberleycastle.co.uk or call + 44 (0) 1798 831 992