Hanbury Manor Hotel is a Marriott property billed as a hotel with “five star luxury” and includes the Oakes Grill Restaurant boasting excellent food. Located just outside Ware in Hertfordshire, it’s a bona fide 5 star hotel in some lovely English countryside. with the original house built of striking red brick in the mid 1700’s, its an impressive looking place and would be fitting of a restaurant serving 5 star food. Could the Oakes Grill R estaurant at Hanbury Manor live up to the Marriott hype?
Oakes Grill Restaurant at Hanbury Manor Review Continued
Before I begin, this review is all about the Oakes Grill Restaurant inside Hanbury Manor. The review will not cover any elements of the Hanbury Manor Hotel itself.
The Oakes Grill Restaurant is located on the second floor of the Hanbury Manor hotel and its location came as something of a surprise. Only a few yards away you’ll find hotel bedrooms and other private facilities which really takes away any sense of occasion the restaurant could hold and feels a little odd. Take the hotel lobby, for example, you’d be getting the buzz of the reception, cocktail bar and some other communal areas which add to the ambience of a public gathering place so to find a restaurant shoved in a corner of a hotel away from any other amenity I found quite strange. Walking down the quiet corridor to the Oakes Grill Restaurant felt somewhat eerie until the dampened canteen like noises started to be heard as we got close to the restaurant.
The first impression on arrival was of disappointment. We had seeming been transported from a comfortingly old and historical hotel into a generic room which had attempted to be contemporary but without really hitting that nail fully on the head. In anticipation of some good food I put that to the back on my mind as we were escorted to our table.
Once seated the waiter promptly disappeared after advising us politely that someone would be along in a few moments to take our drinks order. Twenty minutes later and with no drink in hand a young lady appeared asking to take our food order. “Can I order some drinks first?” I asked. “Of course” she replied at which point I ordered a bottle of the house red priced at £22. Incidentally this was one by far the cheapest with the bottles averaging £40 a bottle. The wine was far from “fine wine” but was nice enough at the £22 mark if a touch over the normal price I would expect to pay. My problem here is that a restaurant should be an experience. Any restaurant worth their salt would ensure a drinks order is taken immediately after being seated and they certainly would not be asking for a customers food order before their drinks Again, I can overlook this somewhat if the food is good and the service is half decent so we plodded on with our food order. The wife asked for the ravioli filled with something (I cant remember exactly what) for main course only to be told that this was not on the menu any more and the ravioli was changed to a pumpkin ravioli. A little disappointed, she stuck with the ravioli anyway. I choose a Scallop and Pork Belly starter while my vegetarian wife ordered the vegetable soup. In around 7 minutes the food arrived. I’d barely sipped my wine at this point but never-the-less I got stuck in.
The scallop dish was presented beautifully and looked like a real winner but my excitement was quickly dashed. It was tiny…. and i mean really tiny. At £12 for a starter, the price bracket is up there with some renowned fine dining establishments with a good pedigree and I’d have gotten more for my buck at these places for certain. If that wasn’t enough the scallops were bland and had an odd boiled-like texture. The dressing over the whole thing tasted of nothing as did the cubed tomato. How do you make a tomato taste of nothing?! The pork belly “slither” was actually very good but this was a token gesture and could be inhaled as it was that small.
While I was taking my first bite of my starter I noticed the wife grimace on her first mouth of soup so I asked what was up. She offered me a taste to which I duly obliged and I cannot easily describe what I experienced next. A bland and sour-like taste with a gritty texture engulfed my mouth. I had never experienced a taste like it before and don’t ever want to taste it again! I have never tasted a soup, vegetable or otherwise, which was so inedible and disgusting. I immediately called the Oakes Grill Restaurant waitress over and sent the soup back. I had finished my starter at this point so my wife did not want to be sat there eating an alternative starter alone so she declined the offer of something else. Perfectly normal I feel. Incidentally, another 2 couples that I saw also sent the soup back. It’s beyond me how a professional chef working in a five start hotel restaurant thought that slop was in any way acceptable to be served. For me, they shouldn’t be in a McDonalds let alone a professional kitchen.
The mains arrived after a short wait. The pumpkin ravioli and my roast pork belly main. Now bare in mind the prices for the main are £19 and £24 respectively and were one of the cheapest things on the menu. Not exactly cheap but as you all well know, you get what you pay for…. or so we should. On this occasion we were left feeling short changed again. The pumpkin ravioli was luke-warm and under seasoned as well as swimming in what I assume was pasta water. No dressing, no sauce, no seasoning… nothing! My pork was OK if a little under seasoned but was edible. Thank the lord I didn’t order one of the more expensive main courses! Having already complained about the starter we both were disgruntled and wanted to go so did not send the main course back at all and couldn’t be bothered to stay for a desert.
I swiftly called over the waitress again, asked for the bill and to also express my disappointment at the quality of the food. She reluctantly agreed to remove the 12.5% service charge which would be added to the bill (yeah? thanks for that!!) and give a 20% discount on the food.
The Oakes Grill Restaurant in the supposedly 5 star Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel should be serving some great local produce cooked with care and know how. The food we received was non of this. It was dire! I thank god that I did not order one of the middle of the road main courses which would have cost between £30 and £40! I would have been even more upset should I have spent over £120 on food of this quality. So so bad! If I go back, I’ll eat at the Sow and Pigs Pub at the end of the entrance road. They know how to cook something with a bit of care and attention!