Saturday, 1 June 2013

Orangery Restaurant, Charlecote Park, nr Wellesbourne

On a hot day, be warned. This establishment is, indeed, set in the Orangery with a lovely glass roof but gets greenhouse hot. Though there is plenty of seating indoors, it is best to try for the outdoors. There is a mix of ubiquitous National Trust wooden bench-and-tables, but also a few of the ironwork style chairs and tables dotted about. Uncomfortable though. Stick with the benches, even if it is an awful faff dragging your legs over the seat in the least ladylike way possible.

Access is fine although a long queue means that you can get quite boxed in. You tend to find that you are blocking the path of people to-ing and fro-ing and this can get frustrating. You are quite frequently bumped into, although, in fairness, people are very nice and very apologetic. If possible, just leave someone in the queue to get the food and aim for a table against a wall or outdoors, to avoid collisions.

We opted for jacket potatoes, Drew having chilli and I had tuna mayo. Both were served in a deep bowl with a small, undressed salad of lettuces leaves, a quarter slice of tomato and two slivers of red pepper. The tuna mayo was tasty. Very smooth, very, very creamy and blended well with the potato which didn't have a very crispy skin but was flaky and earthy in taste. Drew found the chilli to be very hot with a nice 'kick'. Neither potato, incidentally, had butter. This is a worrying trend we have noticed - no jacket potato served to us these days has butter. Presumably you are meant to get some from the same place that supplies knives, forks, sugar and sauces but we have found that this isn't always the case. Is this a money-saving ruse on the part of all eateries? Or nanny-state style intervention for the sake of our health? The rocky road cake we had to follow was good. Cloying and extra sweet. It was too hot for coffee so we opted for that National Trust favourite, the Fentimans brand Dandelion and Burdock and Victorian lemonade. The latter was is good on a hot day but so lemony as to suck your features inward, particularly if you try to down it quickly. Sipping it is best, if you don't want to spend the next five minutes gurning and going 'Yiiick'. The Dandelion and Burdock has a fragrant, herby flavour, much milder and more thirst-quenching. And it makes you come over all olde worlde.

The house and grounds are well worth exploring, by the way. I am not entirely sure that Shakespeare poached deer from the estate, or even whether he gave those animals any thought. For my part, on coming across those stick legs, goggle eyes and slack jaws, I wouldn't blame him for wanting to give them a slap.*

Access: *****

*No, of course, I wouldn't ACTUALLY do it. And anyway, William would have done what we would, in the event he fancied a bit of venison. He'd have gone to the shop.

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