Fine dining and festive flavours at Luton Hoo

Christmas turkey is on the festive menu at Luton Hoo's Wernher Restaurant.

Christmas turkey is on the festive menu at Luton Hoo's Wernher Restaurant. - Credit: Archant

Are you looking for that Christmas meal with a difference? Matt Adams sampled the festive fare available in Luton Hoo’s Wernher Restaurant.

Line-caught cod forms part of the festive menu at Luton Hoo's Wernher Restaurant.

Line-caught cod forms part of the festive menu at Luton Hoo's Wernher Restaurant. - Credit: Archant

A traditional Christmas dinner is renowned as being something of a sumptuous feast, the plate heaving with a cornucopia of different foodstuffs, so elevating this seasonal dish to a fine dining level is always going to be a challenge.

But the festive menu at Luton Hoo’s Wernher Restaurant, as designed by executive head chef Christopher Mouyiassi, succeeds in delivering the flavours of Christmas without the abundance.

I was invited along to sample the first night of this year’s menu and find out what made it such a different take on an old favourite.

After cocktails before the open fire in the great hall, the aroma of woodsmoke in the air, my partner and I were escorted into the luxurious yet relaxed surroundings of the Wernher to enjoy a selection of amuse-bouches ahead of the main meal, consisting of a lovely little cheese bite and a beetroot and apple jelly.

Christmas Yule log at Luton Hoo's Wernher Restaurant.

Christmas Yule log at Luton Hoo's Wernher Restaurant. - Credit: Archant

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I started off with roasted parsnip soup, served with curry oil, apple chutney and crispy sage leaves. The flavours balanced perfectly, with the sweetness of the root vegetable and fruit complimented by the subtle tang of the oil and herbs. My partner had salmon gravlax with pickled beetroot and horseradish creme freiche. She said the blend of tastes worked really well and the salmon itself melted in the mouth. There were also little wafers which added a nice crisp texture to the dish.

The starters were followed by a palate cleansing orange sorbet, a welcome addition to the whole experience.

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My main course was based on a traditional turkey roast, yet delivered to a heightened level of sophistication. Tender slices of meat were served with duck fat potatoes, chippolatas wrapped in pancetta, delicate honey roasted parsnips, anise carrots, Brussel sprouts, a chestnut farce and roast jus.

It was a much lighter variation on the usual fare, which has a tendency to leave you bloated and in need of a lie-down, and the attention to detail was exceptional. Having enjoyed a Christmas dinner of this standard, it’s going to be hard not to draw comparisons when sitting down for lunch on December 25...

My partner enjoyed line-caught supreme of cod, served with artichokes and onions and a miso and white wine sauce. She described it as a generous serving of cod served on the artichokes and onion with a lovely flavoursome sauce. Not at all heavy, nor too rich but really well cooked with loads of flavour.

I concluded with Christmas pudding served with brandy sauce and roast chestnuts, but again the description belied the resulting dish. Although rich with the expected flavours, the pudding was lighter than I had expected, ensuring a pleasant end to a meal which unquestionably delivered beyond expectations.

Dessert for my partner was a Yule log with stout ice cream and a white chocolate sauce. Initially she wasn’t sure about the ice cream and needed some coaxing, but she was glad she tried it as it was amazing!

Her fears that it would taste of Guinness were soon put at ease the smooth and creamy flavours proved a perfect match for the rich chocolate log. The absolute perfect choice for a chocolate lover!

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