Due to fast moving changes due to Covid19, customers are advised to visit The Whitebrook’s facebook page for up-to-date advice on dining and booking. Please click here.
Running county and regional lifestyle magazines and their corresponding websites and social media, and now our new websites www.travellifemag.co.uk and www.life-styled.co.uk, means that we have been fortunate enough to visit some gorgeous destinations and eat at some amazing restaurants.
It’s true, some restaurants of the Michelin-starred variety can be quite stuffy and understandably pricey so when we got the opportunity to revisit the Whitebrook, a Michelin-starred, 4 AA Rosettes gem in the small hamlet of Whitebrook just outside Monmouth – we were excited and just a little bit hesitant. Stuffy isn’t our thing and overly pricey, especially at this crazy Covid time, certainly isn’t!
When I say revisit The Whitebrook, I say that because many years ago, under a different owner, chef, and name (it was The Crown at Whitebrook back then), we worked with them on their pr and marketing, so we were particularly excited to see what the restaurant had to offer in its new guise.
Coming from Rhoose in the Vale of Glamorgan, The Whitebrook is a little drive away, and it’s certainly a beautiful one, given it’s just six miles from Monmouth. It’s a beautiful part of the world and you really do feel that you’ve relaxed as you drive through the remote countryside before you even get to the restaurant.
The Whitebrook is housed in a characterful white former drover’s cottage that dates back to the 17th century. The interior hadn’t changed that much from when we knew it; albeit the walls are now painted in a pale green colour and there are new, thought provoking pieces of art on the walls. There is a stylish lounge area with comfy leather sofas and armchairs but, given the Covid rules, we headed straight into the dining area.
They’ve kept the light wood beams and natural stone in the dining area and have added big rustic mirrors in keeping with the overall theme. I thought I’d remembered there being carpet instead of the wood floors, but Mark thought not. Even if I was right (which I think I am!), I did prefer the wood flooring as it felt more in keeping.
The background music is so important in a restaurant. We’ve experienced some ghastly head banging type music in one in particular quite recently (I kid you not) but The Whitebrook thankfully chose a more soothing jazz option.
Chef Patron Chris Harrod
Chris and wife Kirsty have created something special here. We got to meet Chris and he was just a normal, easy to chat to guy and I don’t say that in a patronising way. We have met a couple of high-end chefs who want you to know that they are high end chefs. Chris was super friendly and extremely humble.
Chris uses the best, freshest, seasonal ingredients, flavoured with newly foraged herbs and produce. He spoke of his passion for cooking and about his love of foraging for the produce he uses in the kitchen – he considers himself very fortunate given the abundance of foraging opportunities in the lush hills and woods around Monmouthshire. He talked about how his first dish was the Jerusalem artichoke starter with local goat’s curd, forest findings, rosemary, nuts and seeds and the menu developed from there. A truly nice, engaging guy.
We were very excellently looked after by Laetitia. With most restaurants we’ve found, the level of knowledge by the waiting staff is generally good but what Laetitia was able to relate about the menu and the ethos of the restaurant was exceptional. A real asset to the business.
There’s nothing worse than eating food in a stuffy environment. Something the previous Crown at Whitebrook we think was a little guilty of. Not so here. There was no need for hushed tones or worrying if your cutlery clinked. The rest of the diners were equally relaxed; it was obvious by their chat and laughter. All good.
There are eight rooms overlooking the brook, gardens or woods. All of exceptional standard (I checked the website). We were there for lunch only. Perhaps another time.
What we ate
What you do get in a high-end restaurant is gorgeous canapes and appetisers. Mark and I were blown away by these. They say that you eat with your eyes and these were truly exceptional. Super pretty but with so many flavours.
With my intolerances information (no sugar, wheat or dairy) previously provided, Chris kindly made sure my whole meal was catered for.
Me: Seed cracker with fennel puree and a crumb of wild boar ham with parsnip crisps.
Mark: Hafod cheese leaf cracker. Trompette mushroom puffed bread ball filled with fennel cream and topped with wild boar ham crumb (the wild boar ham sourced from Trealy farm).
Appetiser for both of us
Crown prince pumpkin custard topped with green tomato, toasted pumpkin seeds, thin slivers of pickled pumpkin and brassica flowers (The Crown Prince Pumpkin and Green tomatoes came from The Whitebrook kitchen garden).
Sourdough bread for Mark
The sourdough bread is made with organic heritage grain flour from Gloucestershire and mixed with local stout from Kingstone brewery in Tintern and their own apple treacle. The bread is mixed and left to slowly ferment for three days before baking allowing the grains to fully hydrate and swell giving the bread a caramelised crust when baked. The Whitebrook make their own apple treacle, using local apple juice from Grosmont in Abergavenny. Their aim was to produce a sourdough flavoured by its location being the Wye Valley and its borders.
Mark: Meadowsweet cured mackerel. Smoked mackerel pate, meadowsweet pickle, apple, crisp leaves.
Mark: Middle white pork. Potato puree, prune chutney, warm spices, charred leek, cavolo nero.
Me: Blackberries with fermented sour cherries and Ashmead’s kernel apple (Ashmead’s kernel is one of the oldest apple varieties in the UK, originating in Gloucestershire).
Mark: Blackberry jelly with a chamomile ice cream served on a chamomile fizzy sugar.
Me: I opted for a cheese board consisting of two types of goats cheese and gluten/wheat free biscuits. Ordinarily you’d have a wider selection of cheeses but due to my issues with cow’s milk, the kitchen accommodated me.
Mark: Meadowsweet macaron with meadowsweet ganache and fermented black cherry. Woodland fudge (fudge flavoured with oak and juniper).
Due to Covid restrictions, no alcohol was being served that day but there was a selection of mocktails and alcohol-free options available. Under normal circumstances, an impressive wine list is available (Welsh wine options included).
What does it cost?
The quality is superb. Couldn’t fault it – we both thought it was excellent value for money. We opted for the three course lunch menu.
All the options and prices are on the website.
The Whitebrook is a lovely experience. If you’re looking for food that’s a cut above and delivered with a warm welcome and great service, then The Whitebrook should defininitely be on your ‘must visit’ list. They’ll not disappoint.
Monmouth NP25 4TX
The Whitebrook can be found on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)
For reservations, enquiries, bookings and information 01600 860 254 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Food images copyright Mark Roberts
We eat with our eyes…
We also buy with them. If you’re in the restaurant, hospitality or any other kind of trade, you’ll know that image is everything. Cog Creative have over four decades experience branding and promoting businesses across the UK.