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Review: Aldwark Manor's New Fine-Dining Restaurant, Chartwell

Review: Aldwark Manor's New Fine-Dining Restaurant, Chartwell
June 2024
Reading time 4 Minutes

Arriving at the Aldwark Manor Estate, nestled in the idyllic countryside just north-west of York, we're greeted by a regal manor with a large fountain surrounded by tulips in full bloom

It feels something like walking into a scene from Bridgerton (but thankfully, without the drama). We're greeted by a receptionist who shows us to our rooms ahead of dinner. We're in one of Aldwark's Superior Rooms, and it's both spacious and modern, offering splendid views of the gardens. In the impressive bathroom there's an excellent walk-in rain shower and Molton Brown toiletries.

Given that it’s 5.30pm on a Friday, we feel we’re due some relaxation (and a drink or two) before our dinner reservation at Aldwark’s new fine-dining restaurant, Chartwell. Downstairs, we’re greeted by friendly staff and a sophisticated atmosphere. The restaurant's interior blends traditional charm with unique, modern touches including a live camera projection which shows the chefs preparing each course in real time (very high tech). There is even a bespoke wine tasting room here, stocked with rare vintages – perfect for those who want to elevate their dining experience with the perfect complementary wine.

Once seated, we’re handed a wax-sealed envelope which contains our menu for the evening. Do we open it, or should we leave the wax unbroken and enjoy a surprise?

Well, those who can leave it a surprise have stronger wills than we do. Carefully crafted to highlight locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, the menu immediately excites us. The right-hand side features a note from head chef Chris O’Callaghan, who began his culinary journey at 16 and joined Aldwark Manor in September 2023 after working in leading hotels and restaurants across the UK and Europe. The menu also shares the intriguing history of Chartwell, inspired by Sir Winston Churchill’s family home, and highlights the restaurant’s commitment to using high-quality ingredients and classic techniques in a modern interpretation, paying homage to Churchill’s refined tastes. With Churchill’s discerning palate in mind, we know we’re in for a real treat.

There are four menus to choose from, and we opt for the seven-course tasting menu. There’s an optional wine flight too, but we keep things simple and choose a glass of Champagne each instead (after all, why navigate a wine map when you can just pop the bubbly and call it a night?).

We start with ‘snacks’, featuring smoked sea trout, wasabi, poached nori and burnt chives. Each bite offers a delightful medley of textures and robust flavours. The cheddar brioche, served as the second course, is an undeniable hit. Accompanied by a more-than-generous amount of roasted chicken butter, it’s an irresistibly soft, creamy, and indulgent dish and disappears almost as quickly as it arrives.

The third course features an intriguing ensemble of smoked beef, caviar, smoked eel and celeriac. This is a unique combination of flavours, but it’s delicious – and the celeriac, with its earthy undertones, ties everything together perfectly. Next up, we’re treated to a rich and velvety barbecued scallop bisque with cauliflower and sweet apple. For the main course, we’re treated to a sumptuous salt-aged duck (divine). This perfectly pink and tender meat is the undeniable highlight of our evening.

If this sounds like a lot to keep track of, luckily for us each course is presented with a thorough explanation, delivered with expertise and genuine passion. The staff’s enthusiasm for each dish is refreshing, and the service is fantastic.

Dessert kicks off with a tasty passionfruit curd, paired perfectly with mango and marigold (the mix of crispiness and sweetness is spot on). The grand finale is a take on a strawberry cheesecake, artfully presented with strawberries prepared in six different ways.

Feeling happily full, we make our way to the outside terrace, drawn by the inviting glow of the fire. Half an hour enjoying the tranquility before retiring to our beds for the night is the perfect way to end the evening.

Aldwark Manor, Alne, York YO61 1UF

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