Binswood Hall, just a stone’s throw from the Parade in Leamington, is undeniably an incredibly beautiful building and gives the impression of a grand and elegant space. We had high hopes of the onsite restaurant Whittle’s - and all our expectations were more than met.
On the day of visiting the restaurant, my husband and I happened to be looking after not just our own one-year-old daughter, but also our two-year-old niece. Admittedly, we were slightly nervous about taking two messy toddlers to a formal dining setting, but the facilities were excellent (lift, highchairs, bright and clean baby changing room) and Binswood Hall manager Robert Diaper was very welcoming and accommodating of our little ones.
With a sumptuous and traditional decor reminiscent of a grandiose manor house, the restaurant’s atmosphere still managed to retain a relaxed ambience and the menu was contemporary. For starters, my husband chose vegetarian haggis with swede and jersey royal croquette, mushroom ketchup and chiffonade of baby gem, and I went for the garden pea and mint soup with flaked Bacalhau (salt cod) and pea shoots. Despite being an enthusiastic meat eater, my husband thoroughly enjoyed his beautifully-presented haggis and polished it all off very quickly, while my soup was hearty and very-well balanced with the salty fish, creamy peas and crunchy pea shoots.
My husband followed his main course with the sea salt and rosemary-coated whole poussin with pan jus, beetroot and sweet potato chips, and I went for the butternut squash and chickpea chilli with red onion marmalade, saffron rice and ricotta. The chicken was perfectly cooked and complemented by the contrasts of a salty crust and sweet potato chips and beetroot. Being a pescetarian, I have on many an occasion been disappointed by the vegetarian option on menus which can seem like an after-thought and I have wished that I had gone for fish. But not here: the saffron rice was fluffy yet the grains were still quite separate and retained their bite, the chilli had a sweet mild heat and the ricotta and chutney bound it all together to a delicious effect. It was evident that a lot of care and attention had gone into the creation of this dish – one I would like to have a go at recreating at home.
Although pleasantly full and with two restless toddlers on our hands, we were too tempted by the dessert menu to leave before indulging in a third course. We both chose the duo of chocolate fondant and cappuccino mousse with strawberries – and for a dark chocolate-lover like myself, it was the perfect choice. The molten chocolate inside the little cake seeped out gorgeously as soon as my fork broke the surface and the dark mousse was a real pleasure to eat. It was enjoyable to have two different dishes on one plate and to dip in and out of the two.
This restaurant would make a fine choice for a couple looking for a romantic venue for a date, but the friendly staff, excellent facilities and very reasonably-priced menu (£23 for three courses at dinner) also make it a very good eating establishment for families and larger groups.
Whittle’s also has an afternoon tea menu and its Christmas menu (£25 for three courses) is available from December 1.
Contact: Whittle’s at Binswood Hall, Binswood Avenue, Leamington; 01926 431311; www.whittlesrestaurant.co.uk