Stoke Rochford Hall is a beautiful Victorian county mansion found in the south of Lincolnshire. With a great reputation for its breathtaking surroundings, luxury hospitality and nearby golf course, it was the perfect location to take my golf mad boyfriend for a surprise birthday break away. Food for me and golfing tuition with the club professional for him - perfect!
We got there at midday, and although check in is 2pm the staff were more than happy to let us into our room. This worked out perfectly as Sam had his golf lesson at 1pm just around the corner. Navigating the A1 nearby was a little tricky, but it wasn't long before Sam was away on a golf buggy and I was back at the hall for a lovely relaxed lunch.
The standard double room I booked was located in the Old Stable Courtyard. With small and standard doubles in the courtyard and mansion rooms in the house, part of me totally wished I'd splashed out on the premium rooms with a view. Nevertheless, this room was spacious, clean and tastefully decorated - perfect for our stay.
Next I pottered off to explore the gorgeous 1840s Grade I surroundings and sample the lunch menu with a cheeky glass of Pinot. With an inviting choice of sandwiches and bar snacks in their Terrace Bar, I decided to keep it light with a Caesar Salad with lashings of parmesan, scatterings of anchovies and the classic dressings. Topped with garlic croutons instead of chicken, this came in at £7.95.
I sunk into a cosy leather chair and enjoyed the view of the golf course, trying to spy my boyfriend out of the window. Meanwhile I tucked into a fresh and crunchy salad in yet another of their grand surroundings; the Oak Room.
I went and joined Sam at the 14th hole of 18, the best time to take in the last few views of the hall in the afternoon sun. Finishing at around 4pm, it was the perfect time for a birthday pint - and I couldn't wait to reclaim those leather chairs for an afternoon tipple. When we got back to the hall, I was so sad that they were closing the bar up and we had to go to the downstairs bar with minimal windows. We would have loved to sit in that sundrenched room again or perhaps in The Library, wall to wall with endless books, letter and sentences.
With a table booked for 7pm, we tottered back to our courtyard room to doll ourselves up with the usual complimentary toiletries and big, fluffy white towels.
It was a Thursday evening so there was a quiet and leisurely ambience about the restaurant, with couples and small groups enjoying drinks around the bar. The decor had nods to the general feel of the building, with chandeliers and a deep colour scheme, although I couldn't help but think how amazing it would have been for them to make more of the space awaiting upstairs. Although this may be due to logistics of the downstairs kitchen, I was just so blown away by the historic Victorian features that I think it would have been so lovely to enjoy them whilst dining.
A glass of Malbec and serving of warm bread and butter later, I was glancing through the three course menu, spoilt for choice. As part of the stay, I'd prepaid £24.95 each three course menu, which could be changed and subsidised from the A La Carte menu. I went for the Salmon Mousse and Pomegranate and Watercress Salad to start, whilst Sam went for the French Onion Soup (+£1.50).
The creamy salmon had a glorious whipped texture which matched well with the peppery watercress and pops of pomegranate seeds. Sam really enjoyed his soup too, although as he's been spoilt with the gooey bubbling cheese of Parisian onion soups, I think he would have preferred a little extra cheese dripping over the sides.
For main, I opted for Roast Lamb whilst Sam chose the Chargrilled Pork Cutlet (+£3.95) cooked on the bone with a parmesan and sage crust and served with a béarnaise sauce. I should say there were some clearly marked nut free, gluten free and vegan options too - such as a Chargrilled Vegetable Terrine,Venison Casserole and Brioche and Almond wrapped Brie Wedge.
Served at the perfect shade of pink with a robust flavour, I was fully taken by the delectable lamb itself. The potato cake was very peppery and flavoursome, which I loved, although I can imagine it may be too peppery for some palates. I loved the rustic feel of the veg and delicious crunch too, though I would have loved to see a little more veg and some greenery on my plate. Am I just a tad obsessed with spinach, kale and asparagus?
The dessert that immediately piqued my interest was the Dark Chocolate and Grand Marnier Terrine (+£3.95). I surprised myself this meal for firstly selecting a savoury and fruit combination to start, and then a boozy dessert, both things I'm not always drawn to. The bitter orange of the cognac liquer mixed with the dark chocolate and creamy texture felt like a premium chocolate orange dessert that was a little bit naughty too. It came with a white chocolate ice cream, packed with flecks of white chocolate curls, which added extra sweetness to the other darker flavours. The icing on the cake was the cheeky hazelnut praline - making it winning pud for me.
Sam's cheese board went down well too. But when you've got Colston Bassett Stilton and Applewood Smoked Cheddar (+£3.95) on the board, everything is right in the world.
The three course meal with wine came to an extra £30 on top of the £50 initial prepayment. Although what's a birthday without over indulgence hey?
The next day we enjoyed a buffet breakfast with everything from pasties and fresh fruit to full English breakfasts and classic toast and cereal. There were also some plates to order, so I opted for smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, fresh orange juice, a piping hot coffee and a Yorkshire sourced Longley Farm yoghurt to finish.
We both really enjoyed the experience, exquisite traditional Victorian mansion and countryside views, with a great seasonal menu to boot. My only change would be, that with all those glorious and stately rooms on tap, why not use them more often for evening meals and breakfast service rather than just for weddings and special occasions? That would certainly turn a fantastic experience into a truly memorable one.
I may be back for afternoon tea soon and I can't wait - watch this space!
note:i paid in full for our hotel stay. as always, all opinions are honest and my own,