Everything in the garden is lovely at Rockliffe Hall, not least ingredients making their way to dishes on the new-look menu at The Orangery. Kathryn Armstrong tried a taste.

Any chef will tell you that great ingredients are at the heart of fine food. All the better when you’ve nurtured your passion for them in your own plot.

At The Orangery in Rockliffe Hall, executive chef Richard Allen is bringing the power and the passion of the veg plot to the table with a new tasting menu celebrating the accolade of four AA Rosettes.

He and his team achieved the award in September last year, one of only ten new Four Rosette awards that year.

By way of celebration, The Orangery has re-styled its menu and added some theatre to the tasting menu dining experience, making it memorable and entertaining.

It means you’ll be greeted by Richard himself bringing one of the courses and explaining its provenance and inspiration.

It means the dining room team bring a flourish to service with the subtle drama of a dish’s description or a story to tell.

The 11-course tasting journeys from land to sea to air bringing the elements to the plate in the form of pigeon, chalk stream trout and Yorkshire beef.

As expected there is much attention to detail with every plate – and a culinary dictionary of description throughout.

We begin with pigeon. A ruby-rich chunk of game-flavoured breast fillet teamed with woodland flavours of wild truffle mushroom and leek. A delicate Asian-style broth flavoured with chervil root is served over and duck egg yolk adds a silky soft texture to the dish.

A real standout course from the menu is beetroot and Ragstone cheese. It is a revelation, a beautiful thing to put in your mouth: Mousse-like whipped goat’s cheese with a soft lemony tang is served with slivers of beetroot that has been transformed into an almost meringue-like textured sheet that melts on your tongue but packs a punch of intense beetroot flavour. Remarkable combination of flavours.

It’s thrilling menu that delivers in terms of variety. Some strong, rich flavours and then delicate and subtle offerings. A slice of lemon sole goes back to exemplary basics with a velvety crab bisque and slash of chard.

PICK OF THE CROP AT ROCKLIFFE HALLYorkshire beef finds its way to the menu in the form of rib and mince with miso onion and potato. Your witty take on good old mince and potato. This version is all about the dance of sweet, long-cooked onion and mince with perfectly pink beef rib.

The menu moves to the desserts; three dishes which span chocolate, cake and fruit pleasures.

Carrot cake is a deconstructed version of this favourite: complete with carrot discs and a tart sea buckthorn cream.

The meal rounds off with a gold-studded mace! A sweet version of the medieval weapon – something like a studded lollipop, crunchy and creamy, a work of art – and guaranteed to raise a smile.

The meal itself is a delicious food journey that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

The Orangery’s staff are all name-checked on the menu and there’s a nice sense of teamwork from everyone. The rookie sommelier does well with stories told as he delivers the wine-pairing with the different courses, supported by his boss. They are clearly working to nurture a keen and loyal team on site.

Cellar secrets

If you go down to the cellar today, you’re in for a big surprise.

Rockliffe Hall’s head sommelier, Daniel Jonberger is the perfect pairing for dinner at The Orangery.

The hotel has just started intimate wine-tasting experiences with the engaging Daniel as your guide.

The wine magic happens in the atmospheric setting of the ancient below-stairs wine cellar, accessed through a secret passageway beneath the restaurant itself.

It feels like a covert adventure as Daniel reaches for his keys, and unlocks a solid door which opens up to a place of wine riches.

Daniel is the keeper of some of the world’s finest wines within these walls and he has fascinating stories of the wheeler-dealing in the wine world between sommeliers desperate to get their hands on rare and distinctive vintages for their wine-loving customers.

He is currently having something of a love affair with the wines of Argentina having travelled there recently, extensively touring the country’s finest vineyards. So these wines feature on some of his wine-tasting tutorials, alongside hefty super-Tuscans and bold Bordeaux.

The cellar sessions can be booked in before your meal and add an entertaining dynamic to the evening. Daniel is a great host. He’s worked in wine for many years – including stints at The Samling and Holbeck Ghyll in Cumbria and is hugely   knowledgably and enthusiastic about his subject. He’s a good guide to the a wine’s flavours, aromas and personality; what it sits with in terms of food and how the flavours play out. A tasting might start with the freshest of whites through to the richest of reds, so you can compare as you go along. He knows the stories of vineyards and taps in to current wine trends in an easy and entertaining way.

Some of the sessions on offer:

Wine Tasting Challenge

Sommelier pitches two very different vineyards against each other. You’ll taste wines made from the same grapes at each viineyard, but the way in which they’ve been produced, their country of origin and the terroir will be different.

£65 per person for one hour


Tailor Made Tastings

Whether you have a favourite grape or region, or would like to explore new ones, book a bespoke wine-tasting session. All white, red, rosé or a combination of two or three.

From £45 per person for one hour


Beginner’s Wine Tasting

If you’re new to wine tasting, or even new to wine, this sampling session is a perfect introduction into the world of the grape. Sample seven delicious wines from different parts of the world and different palates.

£55 per person. Prices are based on 2-8 people.


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