This review is of a favourite of mine just over an hour from London on the Essex/ Suffolk borders in gorgeous Constable country.
Maison Talbooth is part of a this small group of hotels owned and run by Milsom. If in need of a break, I know that they won't let me down. It's rare to find consistency of high standards throughout, especially of service but they do it. It's not rocket science, it takes thought and effort yet the large majority slack or sit on their laurels so they never measure up. Not Maison Talbooth nor its award-winning restaurant Le Talbooth - a relaxed fine dining establishment famous in its own right for its romantic setting on the river Stour and its two AA rosette-kitchen.
We drove up this weekend just the two of us. We needed to recharge our batteries. Sleepless nights (a three-year old not staying sleep!) and stress taking their toll, Maison Talbooth offers a panacea. Near to London but in beautiful surroundings, the minute you arrive you can feel your shoulders dropping! The rooms, all named after famous British writers are a luxury home away from home. Ours, the Betjemen has both walk-in rain shower and oversize bath perfect for luxuriating in my ESPA Detoxifying Bath Oil one night and my ila Bath Salts of Inner Peace the next. (My real treat when I travel; I always stock up on goodies ahead of a break - it's the perfect opportunity to destress).
Views are to die for too. Opening the curtains to the fields beyond feels a far cry from London. The pool and pool house are situated in the gardens with the tennis court next door. This time round we opted for the spa. I'd not visited the first time. Needless to say, I was impressed. Housed on the first floor of the main building, it's small but they have managed to create a little haven with a small reception area, treatment rooms and a nail station.
The charming General Manager, Evan Marshall is also Head Chef so foodies, expect to be well catered for!
Le Talbooth, the restaurant, is worth the journey from London alone.. We dined both nights here. The hotel ferries clients between the hotel and the restaurant (approx. 2 mins) in a Range Rover, so no need to worry about the car.
The food here hits the mark every time with precision cooking and presentation, well-thought-out menus and combination of ingredients.
Much emphasis is put on produce; the Dedham Vale Chateaubriand with a beautiful bearnaise sauce and dauphinois potatoes,for example. Thetford Forest Venison saddle with thyme infused polenta, blackberries and red wine jus was perfectly balanced.
The starters were a real standout for us. Seared yellowfin tuna (above) with Siam dressing, mung beans and smoked hazelnuts was a real revelation, light and fresh and so good that we ordered it twice! Also the veal carpaccio with crayfish, cashew nuts and pickled mustard seeds. Such a brilliant flavour combination. There's something for everyone on the menu plus for once, a proper vegetarian menu too which looked really appealing and not an afterthought as so many feel.
Dessert again were delicious, well-balanced and perfectly executed from the lemon soufflé to the banana millefeuille and apple three ways (above).
We left Maison and Le Talbooth after our second lazy breakfast in bed feeling much more relaxed. It's a great place to choose for a short luxury break near London and one that never disappoints! One word of warning though, it's a big wedding venue and gets very busy over the summer months especially. Avoid if you can at those times, otherwise, a winner.