The Whitebrook Restaurant with Rooms is found in the leafy area of Monmouth, just over the border into Wales. The area is idyllic with woodland walks and fresh clean air, all just a couple of hours’ drive from London.
I visited last week to try the Michelin-starred food at the restaurant by owner and chef Chris Harrod. The emphasis at Whitebrook is very much on the food, but the eight comfortable rooms are certainly not just an afterthought.
Though simple, the bedrooms have been designed and decorated to a high standard with King sized beds and indulgent bathrooms, complete with big baths and walk-in showers. The bedroom windows looked out to the surrounding garden and the sound of springtime birds filled the room. After we were settled in, homemade Welsh biscuits and milk were delivered to our room, and I was amazed at how quickly I felt totally relaxed.
Breakfast was wonderfully succinct and perfectly prepared, farmhouse eggs cooked to your preference, cereals and flaky pastries, strong coffee and sweet freshly squeezed juice.
The Whitebrook restaurant space is modern and considered, with minimalist design complemented by the light which floods in through the windows during the day. Chef Chris Harrod makes good use of the natural surroundings focussing his dishes on locally sourced produce and foraged herbs, and creating a menu which is both inventive and delicious. His training at Le Manoir is visible in the immaculate plating of the food and subtle but balanced flavour combinations.
Though the service was a little chaotic at times I cannot fault the food at the Whitebrook restaurant. After a glass of the local sparkling wine we received our vegetarian starters, delicious enough to make anyone give up meat! The Wye Valley Asparagus Mousse with hogweed, maritime pine, hedgerow pickings and tintern mead was wonderfully fresh with a range of herbaceous flavours and textures. Roasted cauliflower with charred onion, crispy kales and bittercress was perhaps even tastier, with a woody caramelised flavour from the perfectly cooked vegetable elements.
The meat main courses were Ryeland Lamb with turnip, brassica tops and ramsons and Huntsham Farm Suckling Pig with jersey royals, blackened onion, and wet garlic. Despite the big flavours, the dishes were light and dominated with local greenery. It was lovely to see a chef prioritising vegetables, with just accents of meat and fish when necessary.
Desserts were not quite as outstanding, but nonetheless thoughtful plates of food. I found the Tregothnan Estate Honey Mousse overpowering so that the lemon verbena flavour was barely detectable. Yorkshire Rhubarb with walnut crumble, jersey milk and medlar syrup was a lovely pudding with soft and juicy rhubarb and a crunchy sweetness from the milk meringue shards.
After a long lazy lunch at The Whitebrook we walked off the calories with a blissful woodland walk. The perfect end to our 24 hours in Wales.
More information on The Whitebrook here.