This morning there was a pleasant surprise in my email waiting for me. It was an internal document on what to expect from Hartnett Holder & Co, and at four pages long it’s an interesting read. Firstly the name, “Hartnett Holder & Co”, surely there is a comma missing? Next, despite never holding anything higher than 2 rosettes in previous posts, Mr Holder has been catapulted into the big league with ‘winning’ 3rosettes in January 2011. I say ‘winning’, as my thoughts on this subject are very clear, and the AA have done very little or anything to address it.
So as Lime Wood currently stands it has several dining options: The Scullery; The Dining Room & The Spa. All this is about to change. As we know The Dining Room, will become ‘Hartnett Holder & Co’ and The Scullery will effectively cease to exist as a dining option, instead it’ll be used as a breakfast room & potentially for private dining. Of course you can read a lot of this on the Lime Wood website, so you don’t have to be a genius. But as ever I’ll give you a whole lot more.
Firstly Hartnett Holder & Co isn’t going to be ‘fine dining’ but fun dining, it’s ok to have a trophy restaurant when you have more than one outlet, but Lime Wood is throwing all its eggs into one basket when it comes to restaurant offerings and pricing is going to have to reflect this, so these are the suggested prices:
Starters: £6.50 to £12.50
Mains: £15 to £26
Lunch menu: approx £20
This is a substantial mark down for Lime Wood, where current prices (taken from their website today) are significantly higher currently:
Starters: £10 (Parsley soup) to £14 (Polenta ravioli)
Mains: £24 (White risotto) to £32 (Salt baked Goose)
Lunch menu: 2 courses £21 & 3 courses £25
All of the above is subject to 12 ½% service charge as well.
So what sort of food can you come to expect from the dynamic duo of Hartnett & Holder? Well it plays strongly to the Italian background that both the chef’s apparently have, again straight from the internal document:
Both chefs are famed for their informal, grounded style of cooking and their respect for provenance. Expect a nod to Italian influenced forest dishes with English classics, pulling together both Chefs much admired signature styles, which will remain constant and other dishes on the menu will change daily with forest and seasonality being the driver.
The menu has been designed as a traditional and simple layout comprising Soups, Salads & Charcuterie, Meat courses, Fish courses, Pasta & Gnocchi,
Sharing, Snacks, and Kitchen Table.
Menu examples to include:
Soups, Salads & Charcuterie such as mackerel with lettuce heart, wild cress and oyster mayonnaise or a salad of duck egg, duck heart, toast and turnips.
Meat courses such as New Forest venison with red cabbage apple slaw or calves liver with sage onion stew.
Fish courses such as Red Mullet poached in olive oil, fennel and razor clams
Pasta & Gnocchi polenta ravioli with Dorset truffles and artichokes or double agnolotti with guinea fowl and burrata.
Snack menu will feature nibbles at £3.50 a Courtyard menu which will be something heartier and a Children’s menu.
Nibbles – Anchovies, Octopus, Butter beans, Smoke house, Bruchetta
Courtyard – Hartnett Holder & Co Burger, Steak sandwich, Ham and cheese Panini, Crab on toast
Children’s – Boiled eggs marmite toast, Fish/Chicken fingers, Meatballs and spaghetti
Opening times I hear you say, no problem. Hartnett Holder & Co will be open seven days a week, 11am till late ( whatever that means).
Lots of the document that I’ve got this information from goes into detail about the refurbishment & redecorating of the restaurants & bars at Lime Wood, including the re-naming of Max’s Bar in The Study and changing its use to a ‘Private Event Space’.
So as I’ve mentioned the redecorating, who is going to be responsible for the new design? Well that task has been handed to Martin Brudnizki who has designed restaurants ranging from Annabel’s, Le Caprice, HIX London to Soho Beach House Miami and Cecconi’s LA. The restaurant will have a central bar which will bring some of the drama out of the kitchen and enable some ‘preparation theatre’ with charcuterie boards, cocktails and coffees etc being created in front of diners.
Want to know what the decor will be like? Again, no problem:
Decor will be a mixture of forest colours with walls of soft green painted panelling and traditional yet simple detailing.
Seating will be a mix of comfy upholstered armchairs and long banquettes in a mix of fabrics in muted reds, yellows, golds and greens which will be placed around dark oak vintage looking tables.
Diners can also choose to sit at the bar on tall stools. A mix of contemporary and traditional monochrome (black and white) artwork will be complimented by soft lighting and a mix of antique and contemporary lamps and furniture. The floor will be the existing oak boards.
Conclusion : Whilst all this looks great, & it shows the sign that the bottom has fallen out of the fine dining market, especially in hotels. And although that Angela Hartnett is only going to be at Hartnett Holder & Co 8 days in every month, despite Lime Wood saying that if one head chef wasn’t there the other would be, it’s hard to see now how the Hampshire pile will gather any more accolades. I have no doubt that the offering from lime Wood will be a quality proposition, but it looks like Mr Hutson is re-positioning the hotel to make it more accessible.
As ever with new ventures, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everybody concerned all the best for the future.
The Dining room & Scullery close at Lime Wood on January 29th & Hartnett Holder & Co will re-open the food offering on February 11th.
T: +44 23 8028 7177
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