Debbie Graham reviews Orles Barn
PUBLISHED: 11:54 06 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:39 20 February 2013
Debbie Graham visits Herefordshire's Restaurant of the Year
In the year that Kelly and Richard Bailey have been running Orles Barn they have been awarded two AA rosettes for the restaurant, an AA breakfast award and five AA stars for the restaurant with rooms.
And last, but definitely not least, the couple who had no experience of running a hotel before buying Orles Barn, took the Herefordshire Restaurant of the Year title at The Flavours of Herefordshire awards, with their acclaimed breakfasts taking the runner-up prize.
Orles Barn is situated just off the A40, one mile from the centre of Ross-on-Wye, and if first impressions were anything to go by when I arrived there on a Friday evening after a long week at the office, it was evident that the experience was going to justify the accolades. The welcoming sight of the pretty old barns was almost like coming home. This was reinforced by Kelly and Rich who instantly made me feel like an honoured family friend rather than anonymous hotel guest.
This family atmosphere extends to their staff including manager Hazel Powell and chef Dan Wall, who strive to give you the impression nothing is too much trouble. The personal touch is very important to Kelly and Rich who gave up secure, successful careers to follow their dream. They bought this property in September 2007 when it was a dated 1980s B&B and spent months turning it into luxurious boutique hotel with five individually designed, spacious and sumptuous rooms.
When we took over the place was in disrepair with wallpaper hanging off the walls, tobacco-coloured ceilings with water pouring through when the weather was bad, not to mention avocado bathrooms with broken mirrors, lino floors and Formica furniture, says Kelly. We wanted the sort of place where people from the city could experience the countryside without feeling they were staying at a wealthy, distant aunt's but also appeal to country people by making it feel calm and relaxed, perfect for a night out or Sunday lunch.
My room, named Pixie Apple in honour of the countys apple heritage, was stunning, with period features and fittings, gorgeous fabrics and a beautiful, romantic free-standing bath, just perfect for that long, indulgent soak. There was also a modern en suite shower room and dressing room.
For relaxing on warmer evenings there is a large secluded garden to the back of the property, where you can enjoy pre-dinner drinks while
studying the menu, which is full of seasonal, locally grown produce, in a tranquil setting.
But choosing from this mouth-watering menu is difficult with such delights as Chicken ballantine with poached quail eggs to start or fillet steak and pressed tongue, served with potato terrine, baby leeks and smoked orange butter for main on offer.
My choice in the end was scallops served with a pickled ginger pesto, then and duck breast with crushed Jersey royals, peas, smoked ham. The dishes lived up to expectations, and the duck was so tender it just melted in my mouth.
For chef Dan, who is equally determined to succeed, creating a stunning menu from locally-sourced food is crucial. "With some of the finest produce right on our doorstep, we use the best of what Herefordshire has to offer," he says. With food like this it is no wonder that the restaurant has become exceedingly sought after as a place for local to dine out.
After a night of perfect sleep, breakfast came all too early and as expected the menu was again full of local delights, and luxury of luxuries, homemade bread, which seemed to combine rustic with high cuisine perfectly.
All this makes Orles Barn not only a relaxing place to stay and explore the nearby Golden Valley, but very much a place to head for a meal out, whether it is a special occasion or a relaxing Sunday lunch.
It is clearly a place going somewhere. For, as Kelly says: We have a young team who are all striving for the same thing and have lots of time and ambition.
Orles Barn, HR9 6AE
Orles Barn is approximately a mile from the centre of Ross-on-Wye.
From Hereford take the A49 towards Ross-on-Wye. Orles Barn is just off the Wilton roundabout, (third exit) down a dead-end lane.
Tel: 01989 562155;