CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Dinner review: SG4 Brasserie, Needham House

PUBLISHED: 11:34 03 May 2016 | UPDATED: 10:22 09 May 2016

Needham House lemon meringue pie  (Photo: Brian Arnopp)

Needham House lemon meringue pie (Photo: Brian Arnopp)


Food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne explores a new restaurant in Little Wymondley at the heart of a hotel enjoying a renaissance

Barbecue-glazed pork cutlet with green chilli slaw, French fries and barbecue sauce (Photo: Brian Arnopp)Barbecue-glazed pork cutlet with green chilli slaw, French fries and barbecue sauce (Photo: Brian Arnopp)

Needham House is a new arrival on the Herts scene, a family-run property occupying the former Blakemore House Hotel at Little Wymondley. After a chequered career, the Edwardian former manor house and complex emerged last November from a three-year refurbishment and celebrated its official opening as a hotel, spa, conference and wedding venue last month. It also has a restaurant, as you would expect, the SG4 Brasserie, and it was a friend’s recommendation that led me there. Its arrival gives the area around the north Herts village a quality foodie triangle, the other members being the Hermit of Redcoats, reviewed here last month, and the Conservatory restaurant at nearby Redcoats Farmhouse Hotel.

General manager Pete Farrow is on a mission to encourage locals as well as hotel guests into the 83-cover restaurant, a challenge that head chef Ivor Morgan is keen to tackle. The large and comfortable space is a focal point, set in the middle of the main building, with an on-trend view of the chefs at work in the kitchen. Since we were eating early in the evening, there were about a dozen other customers while more arrived as the meal progressed. Service was attentive, with a choice of breads arriving speedily and the menu explained.

The list of starters, all priced around £7, suggested skill, not to mention ambition, at work in the kitchen. It started with celery velouté with Waldorf salad, while a slow-cooked chicken terrine came with a croute and pineapple cannelloni. The ‘Needham House Scotch egg’ was garnished with tomato chutney and kohlrabi marmalade. A duck liver parfait promised accompaniments including peanut brittle, which must be a first, plus caramelised apple and calvados purée, spiced poached apples and brioche.

Such variety presented a difficult choice but mindful of leaving room for main courses we went along the minimalist route. As a fan of the plant in question, I chose the beetroot tartar (£6.50, left) which came with grilled goat’s cheese crottin and port dressing. This is always a good combination, with solid flavours mingling with the freshness, and was a promising beginning. 
My companion, a slave to smoked salmon, chose the gin-cured gravlax (£7.50), accompanied by lime purée, a smoked-salmon croquette, pickled cucumber and frisée salad. It was an interesting variation on the Nordic version, which often comes with dill and mustard sauce, and was well received.

The elegant SG4 Brasserie has 83 coversThe elegant SG4 Brasserie has 83 covers

The mains, less imaginative than their forerunners but good solid fare, were also enlivened by some tasty touches. English lamb rump, at what seemed an expensive £27, was garlanded with rosemary fondant potato, goat’s cheese, cauliflower, courgette and vanilla jus. Having had lamb the night before, my fellow critic opted for the next most interesting-looking dish, a guinea fowl breast (£19.95) with confit thigh, croquette, mushroom purée, girolles, orange-glazed carrots and Madeira jus. She pronounced it sweet and tender and a good choice, with the artistic presentation also winning brownie points.

This left me with a choice of two steaks, rib eye or picanha (a Brazilian version of rump), the ‘Needham House pork plate’ (they like their branding here), two kinds of pan-roasted fish, cod or salmon, the vegetarian choice, which was wild mushroom fricassee, or barbecue-glazed pork cutlet. The cutlet (£18, left), accompanied by green chilli slaw, French fries and barbecue sauce, won the contest and was tasty.

Two glasses of wine and a shared ‘Needham House lemon merinque pie’ (£7.50, right) for dessert rounded off the meal on a satisfying note.

The cost of this meal for two was £76.45, including two glasses of wine. Service was extra.

This is an independent review featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and drink editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.

Book a table

Needham House Hotel

Blakemore End Road

Little Wymondley SG4 7JJ

01462 417240


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hertfordshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hertfordshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hertfordshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Food & Drink

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Indulge in the very best of pub classics every Wednesday night at The Black Horse.

Read more
Friday, November 2, 2018

It’s that time of year again and we have our special T-BONE steak offer!

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A trailblazer nearly 30 years ago, this Hertford Thai restaurant is on the cusp of reinvention

Read more
November 2018
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

If you don’t fancy slaving over a hot fire this year, head to one of these restaurants for a festive feast on Christmas Day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A warming bonfire night snack, easy and delicious and full of autumn flavour

Read more
October 2018
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Make the most out of autumn with these eight walking routes that take in a variety of Hertfordshire’s terrains and - most importantly – have a cosy pub along the way

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Pulled and rolled Jacob’s ladder with potato, carrot and leek cake, roasted baby leeks and veal jus

Read more
October 2018
Thursday, October 11, 2018

Auberge du Lac opened its doors in 1998 and we are inviting you to celebrate the restaurants fabulous history on Wednesday 28th November.

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

Buntingford gains a new 28-cover fine-dining restaurant with the opening of the Falcon

Read more
October 2018
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Christmas at the Tilbury from 23rd November to 29th December.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search