After a torrid time for the hospitality industry, The Oak Room at Moor Hall Hotel is back with a bang, as Amy Norbury discovers
As one of the most prestigious venues in Sutton Coldfield, Moor Hall needs no introduction. But, like every business in the hospitality industry, it has taken somewhat of a battering over the past two years.
However, it’ll take more than a global pandemic to keep a good restaurant down. And Moor Hall’s award-winning, AA Rosette offering The Oak Room is certainly good. In fact, it is enjoying something of a renaissance; something J’AIME was only too happy to sample.
We were greeted by restaurant manager Javier Diaz and shown to a private bar area for a pre-dinner drink and to peruse the menu. I couldn’t resist a signature Moor Hall Bellini, £8.95. A heady concoction of rhubarb and ginger gin, prosecco, pomegranate cordial and just a splash of lemonade, it was deliciously refreshing, offering the right balance of potency and flavour that a good cocktail should.
While the stately splendour of The Oak Room is undeniable, Moor Hall have taken the opportunity to ring the changes slightly, opting for a more relaxed vibe by doing away with formalities such as the starched white table cloths. The menus have had a revamp too, championed by the new head chef and new pastry chef who have created a small but perfectly formed selection of modern British dishes driven by locality and seasonality.
We were shown to our table, next to the lit fire – a welcome touch on what was a slightly chillier spring evening – and set about making those all-important culinary decisions. Our waiter explained that, like many restaurants, they’d had a little trouble with suppliers so the wine selection wasn’t as comprehensive as it would be normally. Our first choice of a Montepulciano wasn’t available, but happily our second choice Argentinian Malbec, at £26 for the bottle, was.
Each starter sounded as delicious as the next, with both the vegetarian options of salt-baked celeriac veloute, pickled artichoke, mascarpone and crispy onion, £7, and marinated heritage tomato, fresh burrata, olive crumb and basil, £7.50, catching my eye. But it was the pan-seared scallops, £8.95, which proved to be the biggest temptation.
The scallops were a generous portion and beautifully cooked, the sweet and tender flesh remaining meltingly soft. An equally generous shaving of black truffle adorned the scallops, which rested atop a bed – or should that be pool? – of lemongrass creamed potato. The lemongrass flavour was very subtle indeed, and the potato was a little more creamed than I was expecting, but tasty nonetheless.
My husband only had eyes for the beef carpaccio, which came with cremeux egg yolk, fresh caper berries, fennel salad and tartar, £8.25. The beef was a real delight, and the plate was nicely balanced with the freshness of the fennel, rich egg yolk and salty capers. He had no trouble polishing off the lot.
Onto the main event, and it was the roasted lamb rump, fondant potatoes, braised radicchio and whisky marinated blueberries, £28.95, which immediately caught my eye. It proved to be a worthy choice; the lamb itself was perfectly pink and tender, full of flavour from that delicious lamb fat, while the potato offered that lovely combination of fluffy interior and crisp exterior. A side of seasonal veg, £5.50, was a cut above the usual offerings, making the most of the seasonal produce.
Normally a steak man, my husband has a certain fondness for game birds, so was delighted to see a duo of wood pigeon, £18.95, on offer. The pan-fried breast and confit leg were a real treat, cooked with skill and presented with aplomb, alongside beautifully caramelised tomato and onion, and baby carrots. A side dish of pommes puree, £5.50, completed what was a triumph of a dish.
I’d been waiting for the promise of a sweet treat all night, but my husband was intrigued by the cheese board – and who am I to say no to cheese? – so we decided to share a dessert and have cheese too. And it was definitely the right decision because the dessert we chose – the Eton mess bavarois with Champagne jelly, lemon curd, meringue shard, and strawberry and basil sorbet, £7.50 – was an ample portion for two. And that’s something which, as a confirmed sweet tooth, I don’t say lightly.
The bavarois was deliciously rich and creamy, the sorbet a perfectly sweet kiss on the taste buds. And that Champagne jelly, well you could really taste the Champagne – oh, it was just heavenly. Little pools of lemon curd added a welcome tartness and light–as-air shards of meringue offered a textural contrast – it was really an accomplished dessert indeed.
The cheese board was also a sizable feast, featuring a Cornish yarg, Stilton, brie and more, alongside ample crackers, grapes and chutney for two. It was a feat to finish it off, but finish it, we did.
As you’d expect from a venue with the prestige of Moor Hall, the service throughout the evening was exemplary, with the young team striking the balance between welcoming and efficient. Nothing seemed too much trouble, and ensuring each guest had a memorable experience was top of the list. As the tide is, hopefully, turning for the hospitality industry, The Oak Room at Moor Hall has once again cemented its status as one of the area’s finest offerings.
For up-to-date menu information visit www.moorhallhotel.co.uk