Mo Restaurant is a new concept in dining for the Dormy House Hotel. Only three months since its inception, it’s already turning heads and creating quite a buzz in the Cotswolds.
Essentially, it’s a Chef’s Table for 12 people. That alone made my husband a bit nervous when I first told him where we’d be eating on our wedding anniversary night. The look on his face said it all, consequently, it made me a little bit apprehensive. So much so, I even rang Dormy House a few days before we arrived to discuss this new Chef’s Table at Mo. My fears where quickly put to bed, I was sold and I couldn’t wait to come to Dormy House to experience Mo, I knew Mr A would be happy too.
Dormy House Hotel along with the Foxhill Manor and The Fish Hotel is part of the Farncombe Estate in the village of Broadway in the Cotwolds. A sprawling 400-acre estate high up in Broadway village, it’s the perfect spot for nature lovers seeking long walks, good food and treatments at their award-winning spa; quiet relaxation is the order of the day at all of Farncombe Estate’s hotels.
Even before I started my blog I knew about Dormy House because I am a lover of high class and boutique hotels, good food and travel, something I inherited from my dad so when my friend asked me if I knew anywhere in the Cotswolds that had a spa, there wasn’t any hesitation about where I would recommend. I knew they would love Dormy House for their weekend away and it’s how we came to decide it’s where we wanted to celebrate our wedding anniversary on 26th May. Max & Grace loved their stay at Dormy House, and I was super excited to find out for myself what makes it such a popular choice of country house hotel.
As well as Mo Restaurnant, Dormy House have another two restaurants, The Potting Shed and the Back Garden. The Potting Shed is very much casual pub-style dining and the Back Garden offers a traditional three-course menu. Mo restaurant is an exclusive interactive dining experience where talented chefs cook right in front you showcasing not just their culinary skills but seasonal ingredients sometimes grown at the hotel in their herb and vegetable garden. It provides a unique dining experience, where culinary theatre and cutting-edge skills make for a really entertaining and fun evening, quite simply, the food does the talking. The menu is a 7-course tasting menu, in fact by the time the Amuse Bouche, palate cleanser and the exciting little surprises that are served throughout, the menu deserves a description of 10-course extravaganza!
There is only one sitting at Mo, 7:30pm and you’ll know why at the end of my post. Once all the diners have arrived at 7:30pm and everyone’s seated, the hotel’s talented chefs explain the menu and Wine Flight should you want that option. We usually do when we have a tasting menu because they’re perfectly matched wine pairings complimenting each dish. At Dormy House, wines are sourced by the hotel’s expert sommelier Lee. An extra “surprise dish” on the 7-course menu is available should you wish to accept but you’re under no obligation to, naturally we picked the extra dish as did everyone and the majority of our fellow diners selected the Wine Flight option too.
Our first wine was a glass of champagne which we were instructed to sip on and use a palate cleanser for as long as possible, well by now, I think you all know that champagne is my favourite tipple so it was really hard making it last. It was Delamotte Brut NV, Mesnil-sur-Oger, Cote de Blancs and our first dish, a bite size shallow fried brioche bun brushed with Dijon mustard, a slice of sausage held gently together with a silver “toothpick” which was delicious.
Our first proper dish was called Duck Egg, it looked pretty impressive served in its shell surrounded by hay. A perfectly soft scrambled duck egg cooked and placed gently back in the shell with the addition of smoked haddock and two types of cream. Only because the foam gun had stopped working, half of us had a morel cream while the other had a haddock foam topped with wild garlic powder. The lovely thing about the chef’s table is when things go wrong as they can sometimes do, the chefs improvise, it’s all lighthearted and jovial, we found it quite funny and it was a real conversation starter, we all loved this dish.
Our table of 12 was a mix of milestone birthday’s – the big 30 and a fiftieth plus two newly-weds – one of the couples literally married two days before on Friday 24th plus a couple of girls next to me who were celebrating the arrival of their friends baby and Mr A and I of course were celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary, we all gelled together really well, conversation was definitely flowing. Catherine and Harry, our chefs for the evening were joining in the banter and often found it hard to interrupt us when introducing the dishes. We asked them if they had experienced any “difficult” evenings where couples didn’t really integrate with each other which must be quite awkward for them. They agreed that our table was by far one of the most happy, noisy and jolly! I put it down to the plentiful wine! In all seriousness, they were a great bunch of people.
We were presented with a mini loaf of bread between each couple. A nutty wholesome seeded bread made with Cotswold Crunch flour, this was served with a really unusual rosemary and miso butter which complemented the complex flavour of the bread, it was hard not to finish the whole loaf in one go.
Or second dish was the Konro Lobster which was presented in such a clever way. At first, I thought we were getting just a slice of lobster and a yellow blob!! The lobster was barbecued right in front of us on a Japanese Konro grill until juicy and soft, then sliced placed next to a slightly sweet lemon curd.
Just when you think if that’s it, below was another bowl containing a surprise of creamy crab, yuzu foam, lemon crumbs bathed gently in lobster bisque. Both were absolutely sublime and best eaten together rather than separately, the wine pairing was a glass of Bourgogne Chardonnay Domaine Francois Carillon from Burgundy.
We were a good hour and a half into the evening now, What I love most about Mo is that nothing is rushed, it’s more than just a meal, the whole evening is an interactive experience for the eyes and senses as well as a magnificent feast for the belly!
Next was the surprise dish, Asparagus at a £15 supplement, this was Mr A’s favourite dish by far. The humble asparagus is elevated to a level I’d not experienced before, it was perfection on a plate. Gently simmered asparagus with a black vinegar reduction, sea lettuce ravioli which just melted in the mouth and a parmesan cream to finish off. It was just the most delicious vegetable dish we’d ever eaten, so light and simple yet so full of flavour. This was pared with one of the most fragrant wines so far in the Wine Flight, a 2017 Alsace from Cleebourg in France, Gewurztraminer.
While we were enjoying our asparagus, Catherine was busy prepping this mighty looking turbot, they don’t call it the King of Fish for nothing, it was impressive. She was brushing it with something that looked like ink which was curry paste. This was then roasted for 15 minutes.
We were served perfectly accurate slices of this majestic fish black from the curry paste with the addition of a curry puree on a bed of mung beans, a zingy zest of lime and kaffir lime leaf topped with crispy onions and fried curry leaf. I absolutely loved this dish, the delicate flakes were falling apart just as fish should be, light and healthy. Curry although a complex flavour worked really well complemented by a 2015 James Hardwick Riesling Muddy Walker from Waipara New Zealand, this and the Alsace wines were my favourite so far.
The evening was in full swing, laughter and giggles was all that could be heard as the wine flowed, we were two and a half hours into the evening and only halfway through our tasting menu. Catherine was plating up the veal, the meat course is always considered to be the main event of any tasting menu.
The rose veal was very gently smoked and served with smoked onion puree, salsify and a rich veal jus. The veal was butter soft and succulent, the onion puree and jus bringing it all together, my taste buds were full of flavour and joy, it was simply gorgeous. The wine matching the veal had to be red and it was a Carmel Road Pinot Noir from Monterey, California 2016. I’m not a lover of red wine but this was lovely, not too rich, a little light yet peppery and robust enough to match the rich flavours of a meat dish.
By the time our cheese course arrived, I got involved in a conversation with the girls next to me and the newlyweds next to them all of a similar age. I was asked some pretty racy X-rated questions, it was all in jest and very funny, I blamed the wine. These girls were obviously having so much fun, they’d bought us some more champagne as we toasted the birth of their friend’s baby. I looked around and my cheese was nearly gone!! This is because Mr A knows I don’t always eat the cheese course, not because I don’t like cheese, quite the opposite. It’s because Milly Moo was a combination of goats and cow cheese and I’m really not a lover of goat’s cheese. I did enjoy the grapes and crackers accompanying it and the sweet Insoglio del Cinghiale Campo di Sasso from Tuscany, a rich dark sticky cherry like wine, a delicious match for any cheese.
By now it was around 11:00pm, Mr A and I did not feel at all full because of the way the dishes are served with a good half hour between each course, remember when I mentioned that Mo has only one seating at 7:30pm, I now know why. Mo is a whole evening experience so if you think you’ll be coming to a restaurant where you’ll be out in 2 hours, forget it. This isn’t what Mo is about, it’s a tasting menu to be savoured and appreciated course by course and wine by wine. For me the best part was to come, the dessert course.
First, we had a palate cleansing granita, Woodruff Granita, a strawberry granita with sweet Woodruff herb and fresh strawberries and strawberry powder. Doing what all granitas are supposed to, it refreshed the palate especially good with the champagne we were served in the beginning of our meal. However, none of us apart from Mr A had any champagne left but who cares, it was refreshingly delicious, and we did have the champagne bought for us by the lovely girls next to us, their banter continued on until the end of the night.
Was our amazing dinner coming to an end? We had two dishes left to go, it was simply called Chocolate pared with Sticky Mickey, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Eradus New Zealand. This was a chocolate and coconut dessert, it was heavenly. Chocolate is always necessary on a tasting menu, I seriously needed to have two of these. A coconut jelly base with a coconut and creamy chocolate mousse-like cremaux with the addition of a refreshing coconut sorbet, caramelia and ginger tuile with a dolce aero foam, can I just say it was simply stunning and perfect with the Sticky Mickey dessert wine.
Finally, everyone celebrating was presented with a plate of chocolates and inscriptions, naturally, ours was a Happy Anniversary plate which was a lovely touch. It was followed by a mini chocolate ice lolly with white chocolate and crunchy nutty praline, it was devoured before Catherine had a chance to describe what it was!! Four and a half hours after we sat down, the evening drew to a close, were we stuffed? No but as I said, dishes were presented every half an hour, so we had time to enjoy each one along with its matching wine.
The evening was just magic, it’s been a long time since I’ve had so much fun. The whole experience was delightful in every way possible. Mo restaurant offers a warm, intimate informal interactive dining experience which everyone needs to try! The food was exquisite – carefully and lovingly prepared by Harry and Catherine and Lee telling a story with each perfectly matched glass of wine. Mr A and I had the best time and it was by far one of the most special anniversary evenings we’ve had in a long time and we’ve stayed in some pretty amazing places including the Ritz and Savoy hotels, Mo outshone those by far. Was it the other diners? the chef’s? the food? It was everything coming together to provide an evening of outstanding food and fun; an imaginative, creative well executed dining experience in an intimate setting with lovely bunch of people.
Just remember that when you book your room at Dormy House, do it well in advance just to secure your place at Mo Restaurant. It’s now something I want to do at least once a year.
Our meal was included in our Room Package. Booked separately, the Mo Tasting Menu costs £90 per person and the Wine Flight an additional £55 per person.
Mo Restaurant at Dormy House Hotel
All photo’s and views are my own unless otherwise stated.