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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Double birthday weekend next week so we're going to the Walnut Tree for dinner and the Hardwick for Sunday lunch. I can hardly wait. Memories of the veal sweetbreads with beurre noisette we had last time live long in the memory. Plus an absolutely cracking piece of turbot.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I just love this restaurant. Abergavenney is really only 75 minutes from Birmingham so I must remember to try and go back here much more often. A celebratory dinner for 4 brought various treats.


Monkfish with pickled cucumber. Lovely creamy mustard sauce.


Veal sweetbreads with sauerkraut. What a fabulous combination the cream sauce, the veal reduction and the sweetbreads is.


Morels with peas and broad beans. Not seasonal but lovely comfort food. Creamy but still light.


Crab. Too much basil for my other half but packed full of flavour (as Greg from Masterchef would say).


Lemon sole, tremendous bit of fish, cooked just so. What else could you want?


Squab pigeon, sweetbread and morel sausage. Enjoyed heartily by my Dad, I'd had this on a previous visit and can recommend it whole-heartedly.


Hare with celeriac puree. The hare was cooked to perfection, perhaps not the most flavoursome of meat but the texture made up for it. A nice puff pastry parcel housed some tasty innards.


Sea bass with mussels and cockles. The only slight disappointment because this came with a provencale sauce which slightly overpowered the fish. I was hoping it would be another creamy number. Nicely cooked fillet of seabass though (but two bones, surprising for a kitchen that doesn't seem to put a foot wrong even with a packed house).

Cheeses were Buffalo Blue (not had this before, very tangy blue), Keen's Cheddar, Wigmore and Epoisses.

Just two desserts because we were getting full. A very delicious vanilla cheesecake served with some very young and tender rhubarb which was either part cooked or raw with a bit of bite remaining but no stringy or tough bits. Plus rice pudding and raspberry ripple ice-cream which was fine but not quite as exciting as it sounded.


We had a bottle of Abardia Sardon de Duera, apparently a Hill-favourite which was sheer pleasure in every mouthful, I'm no wine buff so I'll save you a description but it had everything but the kitchen sink in there, flavour wise. Plus they let you pour the wine yourself which is such a relief (and lets you correctly aportion wine to those who might want to drink more or less).

We spotted Shaun Hill "rattling the pans" in the kitchen (which you can peer into without anyone minding from by the toilets) and popping out to the bar to talk to the efficient front of house. A very calm man, so impressed he seems to be there all the time keeping standards high.

You owe it to yourself to visit this restaurant. It's kind of in the middle of nowhere and you will want to drink well from the excellent wine list so recommend staying somewhere local, the restaurant itself has two cottages available.

Go go go!

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  • 2 months later...

We had an excellent meal at the Walnut Tree one night last week.

The restaurant was full and apparently lunchtimes are also very busy right now.

I really liked how un-fussy and yet beautifully cooked everything was and thought the wines were priced very fairly compared to some places that really bump up their prices.

We stayed in one of the cottages which was perfect. Really comfortable and spacious. In the morning we sat in the conservatory eating our breakfast listening to cuckoos calling.

My calves liver main was the best I have ever had.

Thank you Walnut Tree for a brilliant meal and nights accommodation.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Had a very tasty meal here on Wednesday, took some photos and will post them asap. I am now really far behind with posting our meals, its so much more difficult on the memory.

Shaun looked resplendent in his whites,( and white clogs ) as we had a brief chat about his time working for Robert Carrier, before disappearing back into the kitchen to do a bit of pan shaking.

"So many places, so little time"



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  • 4 months later...

So here I am with Michelin starred chef and new best friend Anthony Demetre :raz: at his latest hot ticket restaurant Les Deux Salons and we are discussing restaurants and food that I like to eat, in and out of London, when I mention The Walnut Tree and Shaun Hill.

"Oh, Shaun is eating here next week" proclaims Mr D.

Really, that reminds me, I did not write a review of my visit, I need to correct that asap.

I found out later Shaun was in town to cook at Rivington Grill as part of the London Restaurant Festival.

Now this visit was quite a while ago (nearly five months) so please be understanding.

The first cookbook that I bought was by Robert Carrier, chef, restaurateur, and bon viveux.

It was actually two books, in paperback form, encased in a hardback sleeve. Robert Carrier's Great Dishes of the World and The Robert Carrier Cookbook. Now I had not heard of this great man but was amazed at his encyclopaedic knowledge, and the books were a great reference point for many years to come.

I mention this because on the menu was Robert Carrier's Pate aux Herbes with cornichons


During a brief chat with Shaun it turns out that he worked for Carrier during which time he made a dozen types of pates and terrines, in a seperate kitchen for Hintlesham Hall and Carrier's, in Campden Town. I did not know this and was glad that I asked what the link was.


Skate with Shrimps and dill demonstrated good saucing, fresh fish, flavour popping prawns and as Mr Hill would quote "Start with good ingredients". We could not agree more.


I did ask the waitress what these tasty little bites were and wrote it down but lost the notes. They were presented as an amuse before the starters.


Cod with Deep fried Artichoke had a chickpea sauce and bite size aubergine chunks. It was a decent size portion.


Bryn Derw chicken with cinnamon and lemon ate very well indeed and considering chicken is a cheapish ingredient this one was well sourced and went down a treat.


Roast Wood Pigeon served with a Morel and Sweetbread sausage was a too tempting extra course that we both decided would be too good to miss, and of course we were correct, as always :smile:


Apricot and Almond Tart was served with vanilla flecked ice cream. It was far from dainty but as this is very much my now preffered style of cooking it mattered not.


Strawberry Parfait with white Chocolate sauce just about finished us off as I pondered my very long drive home.

I am happy to finally post this review as we enjoyed the meal greatly and it would be a shame for it to be lost in the mists of time. If this place were down the road (pinch yourself) we would be its prized regulars.

Our last chat with Shaun Hill was at his Michelin starred Gidleigh Park and even though it was an age ago he still talks the sort of informed talk that I could listen too for hour after hour.

Too many very good people are lost to their chosen profession by taking early retirement. Lets all hope Shaun keeps rattling those pans for many years to come.

"So many places, so little time"



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Those little unnamed goodies look like the sesame desserts found in Chinese bakeries or dim sum restaurants, but somehow I doubt that's what they were.

Was Shaun Hill chef at Gidleigh when the Hendersons owned it? I knew them ever so

slightly and never got to stay there while living in the U.S. Of course now that I

live in the UK, they are no longer on the scene there.

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The amuse bouche was served as we sat down, cheesy bread with sesame seeds, and fried cannelloni filled with spinach and Parmesan.

I wonder if they are the same as we had on our visit?

Edited by PhilD (log)
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We too love Mr Hill.

We had an excellent meal there as part of our 'Cheaper eats' series, and he also took part in our series of 5questions ~ The Legends. He broke the mould in so far as we know, at the time he was the only legend in the series who was still cooking.

The meal we had was fantastic all for about £30 ish

wt-duck-confit.jpgDuck Confit, main

wt-bakewell-tart.jpg The lightest bakewell tart

Just wish more restaurants were more like his.

The Chef Hermes blog

Can be followed on Twitter: @chefhermes

Or Facebook:Chef Hermes group page

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is that passion fruit in the sauce?

is that normal? I've not come across a fruit sauce for confit du canard.

I'm trying to think if I have seen this combination in any of my recipe books but nothings coming to mind.

I love confit, but this combination sounds odd.

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  • 9 months later...

It’s years since we’ve eaten Shaun Hill’s food. That was when he was at Ludlow. The memory can play tricks but I have a sense that the food is now simpler, more straightforward, the flavours more direct. Unsurprisingly, the menu is very much in the “modern Brit” style but with the occasional darts into foreign territory. Non-native, if not unfamiliar, elements if you will. It’s outstandingly good.

The style was set by the amuse – a lovely mini-crabcake with a simple dressing of tomato and capers. This was served in the tiny bar area, so I suppose it might be described as a canapé. We were quickly moved through to our table, no doubt to free up space in the bar for arriving customers.

A starter of red mullet was bang-on for cooking. We seem to be particularly enjoying fish in recent months and this was no exception. Moist flakes with just a little charring round the edges. A dressing to tomato, chilli and ginger would have benefitted from a slightly heavier hit of chilli but otherwise worked well.

It takes a real master to offer a simple dish and make a success of it. Here, baby courgettes, sugar snaps, parsley and chickpeas – and that was pretty much it. Almost summer on a plate – and absolutely enhanced by the chickpea puree which acted as the sauce. Delicious.

Mains looked simplicity personified. One a plate of rare breed Berkshire pork – thin slices of loin, long cooked cheek and a lovely piece of belly, with crackling so crisp you’d have heard it breaking miles away. Straightforward accompaniments of masked potato, steamed cabbage and a light gravy.

The other dish – skirt steak, cooked rare with ceps and Parmentier potatoes. And a lovely dressing of parsley, garlic, oil, lemon and, I think, anchovy. Salsa verde by any other name, this worked so well.

Both dishers show that, yes, you can offer “proper” plates of food, with no foams or the use of tricky gizmos, and hold a Michelin star.

Desserts were stars. Mirabelle plum fool – tasting of plum and cream. And nothing more was needed.

A summer pudding type dish of nectarine and wimberry. It tasted even better than it looked. And it looked superb. Intensely flavoured and a glossy, almost black sauce against the white of the plate – this looked like a monochromatic work of art. And, yes, it was delicious. Wimberries are a personal favourite, dating back to childhood. This was a reminder of why.

We finished with excellent coffee and equally excellent petit fours. A stand out meal of 2011.

John Hartley

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  • 7 months later...

We ate at The Walnut Tree last night. It was a very good meal, beautifully executed, but all 3 of us were a little underwhelmed.

We like simple, gutsy food, and in London like eating at places Iike Les Deux Salons, just like Shaun Hill. This was more refined cooking than there, and just didn't work as well for us. There were few stand-out dishes or flavours that made us go 'wow'. The only thing that really stood out for me was some dauphin potatoes - perfectly crisp and light. I had expected pommes dauphinoises, so when they produced fritters to go with my already-fried cromeskie, I wished they had suggested that this wasn't a good idea, though dauphinoises would have been on the rich side too (plain potatoes weren't on offer). To be fair I was having a starter of sweetbreads and cromeskie with sauerkraut as a main. For my starter I had asparagus with Jersey Royals and morels ( and broad beans and young carrots). Every vegetable was perfectly cooked, but so delicate in flavour that the sauce, a lightish hollandaise, totally overwhelmed the flavours. The ice creams served with the puddings were beautiful, but MrPSB's chocolate pithiviers was very dry, and unsubtle. MrPSB tends to have chocolate pithiviers whenever he sees it, and this was nothing like as good as the Simon Hopkinson versions of days of yore.

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