About Time: You Discovered the Wild Carrot at Four Seasons, HampshireBy Angelica Malin
There’s something so uniquely festive about the Four Seasons Hampshire; the roaring open fires, the wintery feel, the strong cocktails and easy decor, makes it feel like a home away from home. Albeit, one much nicer than your actual home. They’ve recently renovated their main restaurant, the Wild Carrot, and I went to check out the new digs:
Wild Carrot is about as British as it gets. Named after a dainty white wildflower that grows in the fields of Dogmersfield Park, Wild Carrot is all about local and seasonal goodness – the buzz words of the moment. But it’s more than just a trendy slogan here; you can really taste the quality of the ingredients in their food, with seasonality being at the heart of what they do. Wild Chef is headed up by Executive Chef Dirk Gieselmann, who aim to create traditional dishes with a contemporary twist. We’re talking a Surrey beef gourmet burger, with blackberry chutney and caramelized onions in a brioche bun.
The new restaurant is so beautiful in design, with a large open kitchen and bar, to watch the magic in action. The decor is stylish and intimate, with a sense of warmth and intimacy about the place. You can choose to sit in a cozy booth for a romantic tête-à-tête, or dine with friends on larger wooden tables – all facing the beautiful Hampshire countryside outside. For the summer months, they’ve also got a new open terrace that reflects a traditional English garden, draping with green foliage and delicate lighting. Yes, please.
The food is just, well, splendid. Seasonal, local, fresh, tasty – it’s everything you could want in a meal. We started with the Jerusalem artichoke velouté with mushroom tortellini and parmesan; it is, dare I say it, one of the best soups I’ve ever tasted. Thick, rich, warming, with an exploding burst of flavour from the handmade mushroom pasta, the combination of flavours and textures is just so right. The burrata with heirloom tomato, avocado, rocket, aged balsamic and pine nuts is no less delicious – a simple, easy combination of flavours which just works, especially when piled onto their homemade grilled garlic ciabatta. Delicious stuff.
For mains, we try the Line Cod with brandade pequillo pepper, watercress and aioli, and the Wild Seabass with potato gnocchi, grilled artichokes, roasted cherry tomatoes and caper vinaigrette. The cod is tasty, complimented with a sharp and sweet grilled pepper, and given a more intense flavour with the addition of a piquant aioli, but the seabass is the real star of the show here. It’s seabass like I’ve never had before – thick, meaty – but so perfectly cooked, it just flakes in the mouth. The seabass is served with some bold, robust flavours, which work so well with it – the grilled artichokes providing an earthiness, the sweet tomatoes lightening things and the beautifully dense gnocchi adding a needed depth to the dish. The whole thing is so perfect, I could eat it again and again.
For pudding, we ended on a sweet note with the homemade apple pie with salted caramel ice cream. It’s the kind of dessert that isn’t afraid to be simple – and it’s beautiful in its simplicity. The apples are clearly local, simply cooked with brown sugar, on the most perfect pastry base with sweet and salty ice cream, it’s everything you could want in a dessert, really.
We loved the new bar at the Wild Carrot, with its quirky look and feel, complete with vintage-style lamp shades, open fire, plentiful books and comfy leather sofas. The bar is the perfect place to while away a few hours, making your way through the cocktail list and watching the world go by. The cocktails are on point too; with everything from re-imagined classic cocktails to unusual tipples with local honey, seasonal fruit and home-infused spirits. We loved the barrel-aged Negroni, with hints of oak and an unusual, deep flavour, and for something light and refreshing, their Bellini with white peach purée is a must-try.
We loved everything about the new restaurant at the Four Seasons Hampshire – the atmosphere, the setting, the creative cooking. Wild Carrot has style as well as substance, with a fantastic menu that really showcases the best of British. We can’t wait to see what the restaurant does next.
For more information and to book the Wild Carrot at the Four Seasons Hampshire, see here.