The Wessex Royale Hotel is the favoured hotel for guests visiting Dorchester and it is also popular with locals as a wedding or birthday party venue. But now there is another great reason to visit the Wessex, Head Chef Nick Cherry is creating delicious dishes using locally sourced and seasonal produce, which is showcasing the very best of what Dorset and the South West has to offer! So how could we refuse when we were invited along to sample some of Nick’s food.
We were very warmly welcomed by Scott Marshall who is the Restaurant Manager and shown to our seats. On the very next table enjoying a meal (before Radio 4’s Any Questions) was Jonathan Dimbleby, Amanda Foreman and Ken Livingstone!!! The restaurant is bright with a modern feel to it, Scott says that work continues to improve the lighting & to hang local art work on the walls.
Scott asked if we would like any advice or recommendations on the menu or the wine, but I had already seen Lyme Bay Scallops with crispy pork belly (£7.50) on the menu, so my starter was sorted! The menu had a great selection of food, from Pea Soup, Bouillabaisse Terrine, Hake, Dorset Brill to venison and duck. I chose the Dorset Brill (£16.50) for my main and Vicky chose Wild Mushroom Ragout (£5.95) and the Creedy Carver Duck Breast (£18.00). There was a good selection of wines on the list and these started at £16.50, which again is very reasonable. Scott recommended a glass of Sauvignon Blanc for the starter and a refreshing Pouilly-Fumé for the main.
While we waited we were served a flavoursome ragout style canapé – delicious!
My Lyme Bay Scallops was an absolute picture, dressed with thin slices of apple & pea shoots. The vanilla apple puree worked so well with the scallops and the pork belly, it is certainly a combination that I will try to replicate! Not forgetting the amazing popcorn pork crackling!
Vicky’s Wild Mushroom Ragout in silky Papperdelle pasta, with toasted pinenuts and tarragon was a beautiful light starter (although a good sized portion), with delicate flavours of wild mushrooms & tarragon, a delightful dish.
The Creedy Carver duck breasts, with confit leg, fondant potato, celeriac, carrot, plum & ginger dressing was the best duck dish that Vicky had ever had!! The breast was succulent & tender and the confit leg had a fabulous texture & flavour. The vegetables were also delicious, but it was the fondant potatoes winning it for me!
My Dorset Brill with hazelnut crust, leek & potato gateau, wild mushrooms and truffle oil was a great dish of local fish, my favourite ingredient! Scott’s recommended glass of Pouilly-Fumé was also the perfect match with the (nice sized portion) brill & hazelnuts. We were both thoroughly enjoying our meal at the Wessex!!
Vicky’s dessert Milk Chocolate Parfait, with dark chocolate mousse, honeycomb & raspberries, was as the menu describes – Pure wickedness, but absolutely delicious!! Scott recommended the cheese board and a glass of orange blossom Muscat. I choose three cheeses, a fine soft cheese the Goddess by Alex James, Blue Vinney & Wookie Hole Cheddar. They were all great cheeses and the Goddess made from Guernsey cow’s milk, was so so creamy! But it would have been nice to see a few more Dorset cheeses in the selection, such as a few from James Cheese or Chalke Valley Cheese.
The Room to… was a very pleasant surprise to us both, Nick’s food was fantastic and at very sensible prices. But it was the brilliant front of house service from Scott that made the night ‘special’ to us both. Scott also has great plans for the food side of the Hotel and I know we will be returning again in the not too distant future…. yes The Wessex Royale Hotel is one to watch……
The Wessex Royale Hotel
32 High West Street
|Invited by PR company?||Yes|
|Guest of chef/restaurant/owner?||No|
|Restaurant/outlet knew ahead we were bloggers?||Yes|
|Was the meal complimentary from the restaurant?||Yes|
|Any complimentary items provided by restaurant/outlet?||No|