Words: Jamie Tabberer; pictures: Burleigh Court Photography
"But I don't WANT to be a lawyer!"
Forget the opera: our dinner at Burleigh Court near Stroud in the Cotswolds came with an unforgettable live production of a family 'celebrating' their child's upcoming university education.
The teenager burst into tears, one parent stormed off, two little brothers stirred the pot and another parent hopelessly tried to mediate - and all at moderate volume and over the space of an hour or more. All the while, other diners in the stunning, intimate oak-panelled restaurant looked on in awe at their boldness.
Why is this relevant to our review? Because it revealed the capability of the wait staff, who were uniformly great. It was interesting to see how delicately they served the family, and how, with appropriate discretion, they checked in on other diners to ensure their meals weren't being ruined.
Hardly - the real drama was on the plate. This was probably my meal of the year, and specifically, the best and most tender duck I've ever eaten.
The sizeable hunk of breast was sourced from the Devon-based Creedy Carver poultry farm, and served beautifully with roasted garlic puree, bacon and chorizo jam, sourdough crumb and slow-cooked duck egg.
Most ingredients at this two-rosette restaurant, which specialises in local produce, come from within a 30-mile radius. My guest's super smooth Sous Vide lamb rump was from the Cotswolds, for example, while my dainty starter salad was comprised entirely of home-grown vegetables that zinged with freshness.
Best of all, the dishes won't break the bank; there's even a three course lunch available for £24.30.
More dramatic than the food and the warring family combined, however, was the view. This 19th century Grade II listed manor house, located only 80 minutes by train out of London, overlooks the astonishing Golden Valley.
I could have spent days lazing in hammocks on Burleigh's manicured front lawn soaking up countryside scenes straight out of a painting. Breakfast (again fantastic) on the front terrace is a must.
We spent a grand total of an hour on the lawn though, as there's so much to see locally on foot. Stroud, with its plethora of vintage shops and bohemian cafes, is within walking distance. The ancient Cotswolds market village of Minchinhampton, full of painfully lovely, and no doubt painfully expensive 17th century stone cottages, is even closer.
We also explored local woodland on a few self-guided scenic hilltop walks, via documents picked up from reception or downloaded from the Burleigh website. Creating them must have been an impossible task, but I still would have preferred an extra level of detail and more pictures, as we did get lost a few times. Given you're really in the sticks here, that was a little disconcerting. Although, granted, the area is more Animals of Farthing Wood than The Blair Witch Project.
Our sumptuous double room, recently-renovated in muted, earthy colours and straddling a tasteful line between classic and modern, was perfect for post-walk recuperation. (Pictured above is the bridal suite). The bar, lounge area and small unheated swimming pool are also charming.
Other strengths include the awesome smart TV in the bedroom and the exterior of the building itself, which is picture-perfect and vaguely haunted-looking, in a good way.
Attitude.co.uk was a guest of Burleigh Court, a boutique hideaway hotel with a 2 AA Rosette restaurant in The Cotswolds. Weekday B&B stays are priced from £119 per night. For more information, call 01453 883 804 or visit burleighcourtcotswolds.co.uk.
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