Review: Glewstone Court, Ross-on-Wye
PUBLISHED: 14:05 30 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:24 20 February 2013
Martin Griffiths visits Glewstone Court for one of Bill and Christine Reeve Tucker's monthly dinner and wine soirÃ©es.
Glewstone Court is one of those traditional country house hotels and restaurants where the armchairs and sofas ooze comfort and positively invite you to sit, sip and relax. For more than 20 years Bill and Christine Reeve-Tucker have been charming their customers and running a hotel and restaurant which combines a gloriously relaxed ambience with fine foods and excellent wines. Their passion for wines and foods of distinction has also sees them run monthly soires where five-course meals are served in conjunction with a wine tasting.
I recently popped down the M50 with Mrs G to join one of these evenings and found the whole event to be an absolute delight. Driving up to the Georgian house you pass under the sweeping branches of an ancient cypress tree and then enter an Aladdins cave of highlypolished chairs, sweeping banisters and elegant, curving stairs. The furnishings look as much at home as the guests clearly are and with the winter fires burning and the candles glowing there is a gentle pace to proceedings.
Bill meets and greets his guests with an easy charm and Christine finds time to snatch a minute from the demands of the kitchen to say hello to guests who are old friends. Even the dogs greet you in such a way as to make you feel you are part of some friendly family reunion. When the 20 guests are invited to take their places for dinner you move through from the lounges and past the usual dining room into another high ceilinged, late Georgian room with elegantly draped curtains and tall silver candle sticks. There are yet more satisfyingly large fireplaces, curvaceous mirrors and a blend of ancient prints and beautiful contemporary textile pieces produced by Christine herself.
Dinner starts with a short introduction into the delights of wines from the Rhone Valley given by Adrian Patterson of Tanners Wine Merchants of Hereford and Shrewsbury. Tanners are a family firm now in their fourth generation and Adrian represents them well. He is a man who knows his wines and his audience. He encourages a little swirling of glasses to check the wines colour and body and some appreciative deep inhaling of its bouquets, but as my neighbour Gerald very quickly pointed out, the pleasure in wine is drinking it. The meal started with some lightly panfried chicken livers with Trealy Farm smoked bacon served on a bed of puy lentils and rocket. This was followed by an intriguing and delightful hot smoked salmon panacotta served with a dill beurre blanc sauce.
The wine with this course was a rare Crozes-Heritage Blanc, which while being light and clean had lovely nutty almost peachy flavours, which lingered at the back of your palate. The salmon was sourced from the excellent Severn and Wye Valley Smokery and Christine had created a real triumph of flavours here. The smoky flakes of fish released a deep fragrance and the depth of flavour was pretty sensational. It was so good that I had eaten all of mine before Id got round to taking a photograph of it!
Turning to Mrs G in hope, I only found another empty plate. All around me there were empty plates. Youll just have to take my word from me on this one. It looked as good as it tasted! Adrian continued to entertain us with descriptions of the wine selected to accompany each course and debated the role of different oaks with a clearly knowledgeable audience. Meanwhile Bill and Christines daughter Katie and the waiting-on team swept around serving and clearing plates with an apparently effortless, unobtrusive charm (it must be in the genes).
In this company I was glad I had worn a tie to dinner and was sorry to disturb the others diners with the occasional flash from the camera. They were of course wonderfully polite about my small intrusions and the regulars, of whom there were many, were hugely supportive of the food and their hosts. Their recommendations were glowing. With such an excellent array of foods and wines on offer its easy to see how the Christmas night was already fully booked.
When the combinations of food and wine are this good its very hard to find points to ponder and my only concern was the sauce which went with the pheasant. Its not that the Hereford apple brandy sauce wasnt lovely, its just that I felt the pheasant and the wine served with it needed something a little stronger, fruitier or spicier. However, that said, I noticed all the plates were clean again as they were returned to the kitchen and every chef appreciates that!
As for pudding, well Mrs G and I often disagree about pudding. On this occasion we were in total agreement. It was just great a deceptively simple Tarte Tatin cooked and presented to perfection and served with a Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise dessert wine which was as smooth as silk with a depth of flavour that just went on and on and on. This divine pudding was followed by an extensive cheese board, including a delicious Little Hereford from Monkland Dairy and coffee, which was served in the drawing room. Glewstone encapsulates traditional virtues of fine hospitality, fine foods and fine wines. And finally, as Bill said: If you are sitting comfortably, then theres no great rush to finish.
For further information about the food and wine events, hotel and restaurant contact Bill and Christine Reeve-Tucker, Glewstone Court Country House Hotel and Restaurant near Ross-on-Wye, tel: 01989 770367. www.glewstonecourt.com