Review: Courtyard Restaurant at Ox Pasture Hall

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA If you read Wednesday's post, you'll know that Sam and I were lucky enough to spend a very relaxing weekend at the wonderful Ox Pasture Hall. One of the absolute highlights for us was our dinner at their Courtyard Restaurant - the food far exceeded our expectations, and I figured it deserved a post all of it's own.

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The restaurant itself was absolute lovely - it is by no means huge, but that makes for a very cosy and relaxed atmosphere. We were shown to a table that looked out on to the front of the hotel and quickly settled with some drinks. Within a few minutes of sitting down we were presented with a couple of amuse-bouches - some freshly baked bread with flavoured butters and mackerel pate with crispy onions

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The bread was delicious; so flavoursome and fresh, and it was still warm when it arrived at our table, which is exactly how bread should be served in my opinion! I am not a huge fan of fish so the mackarel pate wasn't to my taste, bust Sam enjoyed it and particularly commented on the contrasting textures between the pate and the crispy onions.

Next up was our starters - we both plumped for the mushroom and thyme soup and we did not regret it!

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The only way to describe this soup is comfort in a bowl!!! How they had managed to fit so much flavour into this dish I don't know, but every spoonful was so delicious, and I didn't want it to end - I was even tempted to ask the chef for the recipe it was that good!

We were already feeling pretty full by this point, but thankfully there was a bit of a gap in between the starters and mains. Nothing too long, but just enough to let our starters settle and for our appetites to build again. It also made us feel even more at ease - at no point in the evening did we feel rushed or hurried along.

For my main course I opted for the loin of pork with pork belly and champ mash, while Sam chose beef cheek, which was served on pearl barley. The presentation of both dishes was spot on, and we both commented that they looked like something that would be served on Masterchef!

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While the pork loin was a little tough, the pork belly was the best I have ever tasted (it put my attempts to shame!). The meat was soft and not at all chewy, and the crackling was spot on. The braised red cabbage was a perfect accompaniment and the mash was as creamy and delicious as it looks!

Sam's beef was seriously tender and fell apart without any need for a knife! It was really rich and again, Sam commented that he really enjoyed the contrasting textures and flavours. He also realised that he really loves pearl barley and has requested that we try and recreate this at home!

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By this point we were well and truly stuffed, but there was no way we were skipping dessert! We had already spied the mouth-watering list on the menu earlier on, and had our heart set on trying them. Funny how you can always find some room for pud isn't it?!

I opted for my all time fave, sticky toffee pudding, and Sam chose the chocolate fondant. Both were so so so soooooooooo good and we were definitely glad we ordered them! My sticky toffee pud was light and fluffy, and the butterscotch sauce was to die for. I could have eaten a vat of it with a spoon if they had let me. Sam's chocolate fondant was perfectly melty in the middle, and the banana sauce, popping candy and ice cream were the perfect accompaniment!

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We left the restaurant with very full and happy bellies. I couldn't recommend the restaurant more if you're in the area - it's definitely worth a visit, even if you're not staying at Ox Pasture Hall!