Kidderminster, or Kiddy as it’s known to many, may not be your automatic ‘go-to’ destination for fine food. But amongst others, the restaurant at Hogarths Stone Manor is hoping to change that. Our northern bird Charlie, headed down to investigate…
English – with a strong vegetarian selection.
A melting pot of people. From local book clubs and friends for afternoon tea, to couples looking for a little romance, families celebrating.
The venue regularly hosts wedding parties and conferences so you’re just as likely to bump into a hungover father of the bride as you are blazered sales manager.
In A Word
Jack of All Trades
When I first hinted at visiting Kidderminster, a number of friends asked me why – there was a distinct bemusement in their tone and puzzlement in their eyes. But ten minutes away from the station and Railway Museum of Kidderminster is Hogarths Stone Manor Hotel, promising luxury in rural Worcestershire – hotel, an AA Rosette award restaurant and grounds that include one or two special guests.
Recently renovated, the whole hotel has a blend of modern boutique hotel styling with the classic elegance of an older building. The place is vast. With separate internal rooms for conferences and weddings, it’s surrounded by fields and the occasional deer pops in to say hello.
Away from the elegance of the hotel itself, the bar area has a striking colour palette of purple and lime green accented neutrals, and hints of luxury in the decor – plush wallpaper, carpeting and furnishings.
The restaurant itself is open and airy, with vast windows allowing you to view the countryside surrounding you, lots of wood and panelling, with booths and a mixture of tables. A small oak panelled private dining room is available. Filled with a mix of couples, a wedding party and conference attendees, it was, for all the plush surroundings, quite a relaxed atmosphere.
The Food & Drink
The food is a veritable mixture – items I’d expect to see on any hotel catering to business clients, through to little fine dining touches, and a good range of vegetarian dishes.
After a selection of canapes in the bar, which included sweet and smoky chorizo and courgette skewers and deliciously spiced wedges of aubergine with our starter G&T, we moved into the restaurant itself.
As mentioned before, the menu is a little eclectic. From classics like chicken liver pate and ham hock, through to lemon sole and a well seasoned steak and chips, it’s worth looking for the fine dining dishes – they shine.
There’s also a good amount of imagination in the vegetarian options – mushroom cannelloni formed from thin slivers of potato, and the artichoke and Worcester White souffle are worth seeking out and sampling, and for the pescatarians, the sea bream with smoked salmon and risotto was another excellent choice. The risotto was perfectly done, the smoked salmon and prosecco adding a richness, with freshness coming from the peashoots sitting on top.
Desserts too hold some stunners – whilst the Pimms cheesecake failed to impress, the raspberry custard with basil candyfloss and honeycomb was almost fought over. Herbal notes from the basil, soft set custard, fresh fruit and a mixture of textures made it a dish worth savouring.
Service was… Interesting. Courteous and helpful, it was attentive without being intrusive, but spoilt when our server opened the door to the kitchen and shouted almost as soon as she had done so. Maybe waiting until the door shuts properly might have helped maintain the level of professionalism we’d enjoyed up until that point.
Hogarths Stone Manor has the potential to be something rather special. The problem is that it’s catering for a wide range of people, and a wide range of needs. Finding a way to highlight the special dishes on the menu – those fine dining options that work so well – would make all the difference. Reduce the number of overall dishes, and separate a section for the finer dishes, and maybe have more people like me, who travel specifically for good food, would visit.
Hogarths Stone Manor
Stone, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, DY10 4PJ