Life moves at such a pace that sometimes you just need to get off the wheel and take some time out to relax, and that’s exactly what we did at Brooks Country House near Ross-on-Wye.
By kind invitation, we drove out to Herefordshire one Sunday afternoon and pulled up at Brooks Country House - which is just 40 minutes from Cheltenham - for a taste of country life.
As we walked through the (rather large) front door and past the brollies and wellies (for those country walks), we heard the fires crackling away and the faint chitter-chatter of people supping on drinks or competing over a Scrabble board. Peace.
We were shown to our beautiful King room in the main house (up the grand staircase) and then took the opportunity to have a wander around the grounds whilst the rain held off (we’re townies at heart you see, and only go outside in fair weather).
This Georgian manor has incredible views, and on the inside, it’s sympathetically decorated with sumptuous sofas, leather armchairs and a well-stocked bar. But a couple of edgy surprises await too, including vintage horse boxes which have been transformed into bedrooms (check them out here) and the billiards room where you can play records whilst thrashing your other half.
For dinner, we were shown into the dining room which is absolutely gorgeous (like the rest of the house) with floor to ceiling sash windows. We munched on our bread rolls whilst choosing our starters and main courses. The menu is fairly expansive, so you needn’t be worried about not finding something to your taste. Everyone is catered for and – beware – the portion sizes are incredibly generous.
There were quite a few dishes that took my fancy for both starter and main but I whittled down the choices and went for Herb Pancakes with spinach and mushroom stuffing and Gruyere cream sauce for starter. Oh gosh, I’m a fan of cheese at all times, but when the dish was put in front of me and the pancakes were completely smothered with golden brown, bubbling cheese, I could barely wait for it to cool down to take my first bite. A delicious starter and I really liked that the mushrooms held their texture against the gooeyness of the cheese and pancakes.
To start, Kingsley chose the Fish Stew on a bed of butter tagliatelle with a saffron rouille. The fish itself was nothing to write home about, but the zingy sauce, samphire and rich, buttery tagliatelle made up for it.
When we ordered, I was absolutely Hank Marvin, so I opted for the most filling dishes in sight. My main was the Pie of the Day which was chicken and mushroom (mushroom overload for me, I know) served with seasonal veg and either mash or triple cooked chips (which I haven’t yet learnt to turn down). The pastry was beautiful and flaky and the chips didn’t let me down either. The vegetables were al dente but could have done with being tossed in some butter before being served up. My plate was so big that I had to enlist Kingsley’s help, so we finished our meal by dipping chips in gravy – dead posh us two!
Kingsley’s eyes lit up when his main course of Slow Roasted Asian Pork Belly in a soy and lime sauce arrived. As you may know, Kingsley is very much a meat man and there was enough pork on his plate to satisfy his meat quota for at least a couple of days; there was also loads of crackling which I’m pleased to say he shared with me.
We took a long breather before ordering puds to make some room. No more stodge for me as I ordered the Lemon Posset with Brooks’ homemade shortbread. Kingsley chose the Chocolate and Orange Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding. No doubt about it, the desserts were the winners of the evening, both were spot on. They sure do a good shortbread and my creamy lemon posset was delicately flavoured and equally as generous as the rest of the meal!
We then retreated to the bar and sat in front of the log fire before heading up to bed.
Breakfast was served in that gorgeous room again with a table laid with cereals, fruit and juices. From the menu, I went for my favourite of Eggs Benedict (top marks) and Kingsley started the day with a simple sausage sarnie.
Relaxation complete, we returned home re-charged, full of good food and with county air in our lungs.
Brooks Country House is just near enough to travel to for dinner, and yet far enough away for an excuse for a relaxing getaway.