Brooklands is rather unique. It straddles contemporary design and the historic connections that its very name evokes. One might not be familiar with Brooklands Hotel but almost everybody will have heard of the Brooklands Racing Circuit.
The restaurant is called 1907 and that doesn’t refer to seven minutes past seven in the evening. It’s the date when the Brooklands track was first opened, and the associations with those days extends to the décor of the restaurant. The designer has artfully incorporated track memorabilia, and also gives a nod to Brooklands aviation heritage as well.
The restaurant has cosy nooks for intimate meetings as well as more open seating. There is a bank of stainless steel propeller replicas on sentry duty in front of the impressive bar area. Picture windows bring in morning light to energise breakfast-eating guests, and that vista changes as the sun sets and the restaurant fills with dinner visitors.
1907 is a smart casual restaurant that works with the hotel client base. Many people are here for a spin around the track and for the Brooklands Museum a short walk away. There might not be drifts of white linen tablecloths but the quality of the food here is as good as one might find in many a more starchy establishment.
I was charmed by the menu. It’s of an appropriate length for the size of the restaurant. It has a good collection of classics and some innovation. Executive Head Chef Norman Farquharson is evidently a skilled culinary professional who celebrates British fare with a flourish of European je ne sais quoi.
Pan Fried Scallops and Glazed Pork Belly was my starter. A scallop always seem luxurious. They are sweet and delicate and can be so easily swamped by more robust flavours and textures. Here the partner was meaty but not overpowering. Pork belly at its chin-dripping best.
Pressed Ham Hock and Pistachio with Celeriac Remoulade and Apple Purée was my guest’s choice of starter. This had an old-fashioned taste that reminded one of when ham really was a worthy meal. The meat was well-flavoured and attractively presented on a slate-black plate.
Pork featured large at this meal. It wasn’t by design but rather that those porcine dishes were so tempting and it’s traditional, so no apologises from my guest who was tempted by the recommendation of a manly 340g Pork Cutlet. This was a quality slice of pork-pink meat that was high on taste through its flesh and into the buttery fat.
River Exe Mussels Marinière cooked in white wine, garlic and cream was my retro main course. This gem is also available as a starter portion but it’s so moreish that that smaller potful might not be enough. One raves about such dishes when visiting France and Belgium and it’s proved to be just as memorable a few miles outside London. Mussels can be iffy so I would counsel eating and enjoying them from the hands of a careful chef, and then satisfaction will be assured.
Mussels Marinière appears to be a simple preparation and indeed it is. It relies on freshness of the shellfish with a complementary sauce. This Brooklands version was a winner and I think the only change I would make would be to have extra bread along with the chips. Those last juices cried out for a crusty baguette for dipping.
Breakfast at this same 1907 is a lavish affair. The food is chosen to delight an international clientele. There are the fixin’s for the very best of continental breakfasts. Cold meats, cheeses and pastries overflow plates and platters. There are cereals and fruits and then there are cooked-breakfast goods, for the rest of us who believe that a weekend away should be punctuated with Full Montys. Everything that one would want to set one up for a day of vintage MGs at the Brooklands Museum or for that long-awaited turn around the celebrated Mercedes Benz skid pan. Yes, this is for which weekends are made.
Brooklands has become a favourite with me. It’s a small resort. It’s a relaxing idyll. It offers accessible indulgence. Well worth a visit.
Main Hotel Number: +44 (0) 1932 335700
Reservations: +44 (0) 1932 335710
Meeting & Events: +44 (0) 1932 335720
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018