Our Inspector's View
A well-known TV commercial of yesteryear featured an American entrepreneur who loved his electric razor so much he bought the company that made it. In similar vein, the 9th Duke of Bedford was so taken by the look of this ornate, black-and-white, Tudor-style cottage built for the 1878 International Exhibition in Paris, that he acquired, dismantled, and shipped it back to the UK, where he reassembled it on his Woburn Estate. It's actually through a grand gateway in the 22-acre deer park, a location that puts it in somewhat exalted company in the restaurant pantheon. Phil and Claire Fanning, who own the place, run it with uncompromising passion and have developed it into one of the region’s most compelling dining establishments. But it's not just the building's exterior that fascinates the observer: the interior has bags of style, with modern chandeliers, sleek contemporary furniture, and artworks that include a wall of seasonally changing, food-related works that are for sale. This seasonality characterises executive chef Phil's innovative modern British menus, although a love of Japanese cooking shows in his newly introduced sentaku (carte) that sits alongside his six-, eight- and 10-course tasting menus, with wine flights. Taking the sentaku route could mean beginning with brandade, here herb-crusted sea bass, then roast loin of venison with black pudding, chicory and hazelnut, followed by poached rhubarb with ginger, orange and rum. From the tasting menus might come Moroccan-spiced skate with wheat berry and harissa; rabbit with ceps, chestnut and tarragon; cured breast of duck with confit gizzard, kohlrabi and - that Japanese influence again - umeboshi mayonnaise. Artisan cheeses with garnishes are there for the finish. Vegetarian and six- and eight-course menus are also offered at lunch. Professional service is very much part of the whole proposition.
Awards, Accolades & welcome Schemes
Facilities – at a glance
Makes a powerful first impression
- Seats: 37
- Private dining available
- On-site parking available
- Wheelchair accessible
- Steps for wheelchair: 1
- Assist dogs welcome
- Days Closed: Monday to Wednesday
- Lunch served from: 12
- Lunch served until: 2
- Dinner served from: 7
- Dinner served until: 9
- Wines over £30:
- Wines by the glass: 23
- Cuisine style: Modern British
- Vegetarian menu
Also in the Area
About The area
At its most southern point, Bedfordshire is only 35 miles from London Waterloo, so there’s a good reason for the UK’s fifth busiest airport to be called London Luton Airport. The county is one of England’s smaller in terms of area, but more than makes up for it in terms of business HQs and visitor attractions. Among the most popular of these, and among the top attractions in the UK, is ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, founded in 1931, and now covering around 600 acres.
Along similar lines Woburn Safari Park opened more recently (in 1970) and is just over half the size. Fans of old flying machines or cars will enjoy a visit to the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden, a tiny village near Biggleswade. Among the oldest examples in the collection are a pioneering French Blériot XI from 1910, and a number of early French and German automobiles from the very late 19th century.
Bedford itself is located on either side of the River Ouse, and has a large Italian population, descended from those who came to work at a local brick factory in the 1950s.
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