The Four Seasons Hotel in Dogmersfield is set in glorious parkland in the Hampshire countryside close to Farnham. The estate runs to 500 acres and really is lovely, with some terrific and occasionally playful sculptures. Being close to the Basingstoke Canal, I have enjoyed some good walks in the vicinity, with a footpath running through part of Dogmersfield Park, allowing enticing glimpses of the hotel which is in a restored and extended Georgian manor house with commanding views of unspoilt countryside. It is said that the village of Dogmersfield was moved brick by brick so the then owner could enjoy an uninterrupted vista of the lake.
I was therefore delighted to be offered the opportunity to visit the Four Seasons for Sunday lunch with my husband Mike, having had great reviews from friends about their Afternoon Tea offering. The main restaurant is called Wild Carrot and is in the newer part of the hotel, with lovely parkland views. The large room with its high ceilings looks very decadent and enticing, and we were shown to a comfortable corner table overlooking the grounds. Despite being quite busy with quite a few young children, the acoustics were terrific.
On a Sunday, they operate a self-service buffet style lunch offering. Starters are an array of prepared salads, alongside tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, salad leaves, cold meats and a terrine, plus a few plated options and a soup. The salads were imaginative and really very good, including celeriac, kohlrabi and apple remoulade with smoked duck, smoked mackerel and roasted beetroot, baby potato salad with hot smoked trout, a blue cheese with Parma ham and a punchy tiger prawn cocktail. Mike enjoyed a glass ramekin of whipped buffalo mozzarella with basil pesto while the Highland beef pastrami was excellent.
The main courses are as you might expect, with dry-aged roast rib of beef, wholegrain mustard leg of lamb, whole roasted chicken plus a very beautiful looking salmon and spinach wellington. Sides were predictable, with roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swede plus tenderstem broccoli, cauliflower cheese, Yorkshire Puddings and gravy, in addition to other sauces. The meats were very good, served medium rare but you can ask them for more cooked. The chicken was very moist and the vegetables were all well executed, although the cauliflower cheese needed more seasoning and extra cheese. Let’s face it, extra cheese in most things is never a bad idea!
The puddings were possibly the star of the show. Served individually, we shared and enjoyed coconut and passion entremets, chocolate and orange choux, lemon posset and a truly lovely mini pear and almond tart with terrific pastry. Mike additionally tried the white chocolate and cranberry tart and the cheesecake! For those on a diet (obviously not us), there was fresh fruit.
There is also an array of mostly British pre-sliced cheeses for you to enjoy. These included Tunworth, like a camembert, plus Montgomery cheddar, a Shropshire blue, Old Winchester which is softish and rather delicious, plus Golden Cross goats cheese and the French interloper Gruyere. All served alongside various toasted nuts, biscuits, quince paste and fresh Hampshire honeycomb.
You certainly will not leave hungry. Although we didn’t, you can go up for seconds and even thirds. The cost per adult is £65 and £25 per child over 5 (under 5s are free), which isn’t cheap, but you do get a lot of choice and can have 4-5 courses of really rather good and interesting food. The wine list is not massive but is very pricy, with the cheapest bottle at £40, but a small number are available by the glass. We had a very lovely Mirabeau Rose (£55) and an excellent glass of Claret which was £24.
The service was excellent. We were served by Elena, who was fairly new to the hotel, originally from Romania and had arrived in the UK not that long ago not speaking English. She was very attentive but not overly so, quite lovely and made us feel very welcome. Her command of a new language was very impressive. The other staff we met were equally charming.
We enjoyed our lunch here and would return. The hotel boasts over 100 bedrooms, a spa, a lovely walled garden in addition to the glorious parkland and as previously mentioned, you can enjoy Afternoon Tea in the original house with those precious views over the lake. As we left, we met young Bailey, a 3 month old chocolate labrador who had come for a boisterous walk with his ‘parents’ in the grounds before repairing back to the hotel for a well-earned drink in the bar. Even that sounds lovely. Stefan Reynolds
Four Seasons Hotel, Dogmersfield Park, Chalky Lane, Dogmersfield, Hampshire RG27 8TD