The Bracebridge is a restaurant that I've been meaning to visit since it opened last April.

Set against the picturesque backdrop of the historic Sutton Park and sitting perfectly on the edge of Bracebridge Pool, its décor exudes luxury and opulence.

The eatery is the brainchild of Darron and Claire Brough, along with Claire’s twin brothers, Scott and Steven Lewis, both of whom trained under Michelin-star chefs, including Michel Roux Jr.

Offering exclusive fine dining, the waterside restaurant comprises two distinct dining areas. One of these is an elegant and sumptuously decorated dining room of 50 covers that serves the finest à la carte dishes.
For a more relaxed atmosphere, visitors can enjoy the chef’s impressive culinary creations in a less formal outdoor setting. Casual by comparison with the main restaurant but just as decadent, The Terrace boasts wonderful views of Bracebridge Pool.

Having heard about what a perfect summer venue The Bracebridge is, I was slightly concerned that my partner and I were visiting in winter! But even though we weren’t able to make use of The Terrace, the restaurant was nothing short of delightful - incredibly cosy, reassuringly full - a sure sign of its quality - and populated by contented-looking diners and welcoming staff. And as for the incredible aromas from the kitchen...!

We started proceedings with some homemade focaccia served with balsamic and olive oil, some mixed olives and a portion of crab beignets from the nibbles section of the menu. Boasting a strong crab flavour and served with a creamy saffron aioli, the beignets were addictive and lightly battered little fritters. The focaccia was possibly the bounciest I’d ever eaten, and the olives were of the highest quality. It was all washed down with a heavenly marmalade martini.

Choosing from a mouthwatering selection of starters, including pigeon, lentil and pickled blackberries with a sherry vinegar dressing, and seared chicken liver roscoff onion tart, I chose the venison carpaccio served with blue cheese, balsamic and a watercress mousse. My partner opted for the Severn & Wye smoked eel with variations of beetroot and horseradish cream.

The sourness from the beetroot, the creaminess from the horseradish and the sweetness from the eel combined to create a marriage of contrasting and complementary flavours that proved to be nothing short of delicious. If eel is on a menu, we order it, and the Bracebridge’s take was certainly up there with the best.

The carpaccio featured slightly salted and precisely sliced venison topped with chunks of strong blue cheese, a light and creamy bright-green mousse and balsamic vinegar. It was another delicious dish that was devoured in minutes.

Every element of The Bracebridge oozes quality - they’ve cut no corners along the way and it really does show. Rhubarb Cosmopolitan in hand (a downright delicious one, I may add), we sat and admired the decor whilst waiting for the next course.

The massaman beef curry, the duck cassoulet and the calves liver & bacon were all dishes that caught my eye as I perused the main-course section of the menu. However, after much deliberation, I opted for the sole meuniere. My partner chose the 16oz Tomahawk steak with a side of hand-cut chips.
Featuring soft, perfectly cooked fish dredged in flour and pan-fried with a beautifully salty caper butter and topped with some meaty little crayfish tails,  the sole dish was just divine.

As with the fish, the steak was perfectly cooked - my partner’s preference is medium rare - and was of an impressively high quality. Accompanied by butter - this time garlic rather than caper -and some nicely cooked chips, it was yet another culinary triumph.

Because the previous two cocktails I’d ordered were so tasty, it seemed sensible to sample another. You can’t go wrong with a classic espresso martini, so that’s what I opted for. It was exemplary, and very boozy too - something about which I certainly had no complaints!

For the finale, we shared the Assiette of Chocolate and the oeufs a la neige. Featuring poached meringue floating on crème anglaise with caramel sauce, the latter was a superb combination of sweet flavours. The rich chocolate, salted caramel and peanut flavours made for a dessert lover’s dream.

Our visit to The Bracebridge was nothing short of amazing. It was definitely one of the most enjoyable dining experiences myself and my partner had ever had. From the exceptional food & drink to the welcoming service and pleasant atmosphere, everything was spot on. The only complaint I had was that it wasn’t closer to my home town!

***** Lauren Foster