This was the case again on the way home when we decided to spend a night in Ludlow.
La Bécasse was the proud holder of a Michelin Star but sadly lost it last year. In their quest to regain the honour, chef Chris O'Halloran came on board. He, with the rest of the team, are offering one of the best dining experiences available.
We had booked to stay at a historic hotel The Feathers (photo below) in the centre of Ludlow so we only had a short stroll down the hill to the restaurant. We had arrived in the town a few hours earlier than planned and La Bécasse were very accommodating in moving our reservation forward two hours earlier than we originally booked for.
Like many places in Ludlow, the restaurant interior is traditionally oak panelled and timber framed adding to the atmosphere. From the moment we arrived we were made to feel special by restaurant manager Marc Antoine De Re and he invited us to have a drink in the upstairs lounge.
Complete with beams and sloping floors, the lounge is a comfortable setting to begin the evening. Hannah promptly ordered a perfectly mixed Cosmopolitan and I went for a soft drink.
To go with our beverages were a quartet of bar snacks including sweet potato crisps, caramelised nuts, chilli popcorn and olives. A nice few bites to prepare us for the meal ahead.
The dining room exudes luxury with oak panelling contrasted against areas of exposed brick. Suede artwork of rich reds and oranges along with carefully crafted glass work adds to the feeling that you are somewhere special.
I ordered the Gourmand Tasting Menu to taste all the delights available whilst Hannah ordered from the dinner menu.
Chef's Seasonal Appertiser:
To start we were brought small cones filled with salmon tartare. It was light but full of flavour with a gentle hint of sweetness from a delicate créme fraiche.
A Tray of Warm Breads:
The obligatory bread was served warm in three different flavours. The beer bread had a unique tangy aftertaste which made it my favourite of the trio. The Parmesan bread and walnut rolls also went very well with the silky smooth butter.
To further prepare us for our starters, we were served with a small cup full of sweet potato soup with basil ice cream. The combination works a treat and the different temperatures sit nicely on the tongue.
My first starter arrived which consisted of lobster ravioli with scallop, tomato and spinach. The server then poured over a creamy chervil veloute which gave the dish a depth of flavour. Definitely the nicest lobster dish I have tried.
My next starter was something I would not usually order were it ever on an á la carte menu but this is the wonder of the tasting menu. You end up trying things that you normally overlook when given a choice. The ballotine had the distinct flavour of duck's liver, matched with free range chicken, cauliflower, marinate mushrooms and a port syrup.
An asparagus risotto served inside a squid. A new combination of flavours for me.
As Hannah didn't go for the tasting menu, she ordered the loin and confit shoulder of lamb. Pink and tasty packed with flavour. It was accompanied by baby onions, buttered vegetables and a thyme jus. She was even happier when they left her a pot of extra jus... such a Northerner!
I have only had boar before and previously found it a little dry. However, this version was anything but. I devoured the boar cheek and the bourguignon reduction in no time. This was easily my favourite course.
A fruity trifle with a tirimisu topping was delivered to us so we could cleanse our palettes in preparation for dessert. The fruits were sharp against the cream topping and dark chocolate straw.
To finish our meal we were treated to Chris O'Halloran's special dessert of bittersweet chocolate fondant, chocolate veloute, malt ice cream and cookie. We were informed by our waiter that this dish won 'Britain's Best Dish' on the TV show of the same name. With an undertone of cinnamon, I can certainly see why. Rich and satisfying.
After clearing our plates we asked for the bill but Marc has one more anniversary surprise for us in the form of little sweet treats which I think was a lovely touch as Hannah only mentioned it in passing to the waiter.
The meticulous service was superb, La Becasse really look after us making us feel special and comfortable.
I am sure that the awards they deserve must soon await Chris, Marc and the team.