Review: Doughty's Brasserie, Fairfield Park
PUBLISHED: 11:23 26 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:57 20 February 2013
Doughty's proves itself a king of the castle for food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne
About the restaurant
If eating in what looks like a Hollywood vision of an olde English castle appeals to you, head for Doughtys Brasserie at Fairfield Park, Stotfold. More importantly, go anyway, because the food is good. This offshoot of the popular restaurant in Hitchin is essentially the cafe for Bannatynes Health Club, but there is a discerning and growing catchment of residents of Fairfield Hall and surrounding area to draw on and Doughtys has grown into the job.
Atmosphere and decor
The extravagant outside gives way to a calm and cool gentlemens club-style interior with armchairs, dark wood tables, a full-width bar and some interesting nooks and crannies. Moroccan-style lanterns with tea-lights dot the sills, moving to the tables after dusk.
This was a midweek visit for an early dinner, so things were quiet. Our lone waiter was probably grateful for something to do but did everything that was expected in fine style.
Head chef Matt Lewis has an interesting and mixed audience to contend with but, as with the Hitchin restaurant, comes up with some neat flourishes. Beetroot risotto as a starter, a main of pan-fried red Thai duck curry and a pecan nut and chocolate cheesecake with maple syrup, vanilla sauce and chocolate ice cream for dessert are examples.
Tempura vegetables with Asian salad and sweet chilli dip (5.25) was attractive, flavourful and light, though the salad looked a bit wilted in the unaccustomed summer heat. I opted for the unusual combination of baked sun-blushed tomato mushrooms with mozzarella cheese, rocket and balsamic (5.95), satisfying and meaty. Creamy chilli king prawns on garlic ciabatta with watercress and parmesan (8.95) was another fancied dish, but we left it for next time.
Pork tenderloin wrapped in Parma ham with sage butter, broccoli and sweet potato mash (12.95) proved the star of the show, four generous chunks of juicy meat heightened by the thick-cut and flaky ham and set off with the sweet potato. A close second was my seared fillet of lemon sea bass with smoked salmon tagliatelle and crispy rocket (12), a clever merging of similar flavours and textures. This bears out my belief that fish and pasta do work well together - so why dont more restaurants offer it?
Sadly full from previous exertions, we passed, though our eyes did dwell on the aforementioned cheesecake, not to mention raspberry and clotted cream crme brulee with raspberry compote and vanilla tuille. As ever, we can always go back.
Comfortable and well-fed, we had nothing to complain about. Doughtys simply does its job and if you go for grandeur, the surrounding buildings are a bonus.
The cost of this meal was 55.85 including a bottle of house wine at 16.75, plus service. 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.
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