Bel & Dragon, Odiham (Reviewed)
The Bel & Dragon in Odiham can be found in the north of Hampshire and it is certainly a destination we would recommend for a luxury romantic escape. This particular location in the chains modest sized portfolio, known also as Bel & The Dragon at The George, is a stunning a Grade II-listed former inn. Nestled in the idyllic town of Odiham, it has history as far back as 1540 and this charming building is home to plenty of classic features.
Although, an older building, it also blends gorgeous modern touches for a warm, elegant and welcoming setting. The interior has been designed by local interior expert Nicola Harding and the results are wonderful. The space, which could quite easily look dark (as many older old buildings do), is in fact light, full of natural shades and tones, with a great eye for detail.
This country inn offers fifteen luxury and country styled bedrooms, all with underfloor heating, fabulously comfortable beds and with only a short walk to the bar. In addition to this, the Coach House is a newly renovated five-bedroom annexe which is perfect for individual or group bookings.
In fact, in one of those rooms, is where we found ourselves staying for the evening and when we saw what was inside, we were rather happy with that! On arrival, we were shown to our spacious room, with a plush ensuite to boot. A complimentary bottle of Sipsmith Sloe Gin also waited for us and we immediately felt at home. Cosy, yet with lots of class and style, this is a terrifically worked space.
Rooms are also kitted out with the softest White Company linen and Towels, plus an espresso machine may also be found for those who like a coffee in the morning. There were lots of little additions to the room such as a Roberts classic style radio and Flatscreen HD TV; however, it was the level of comfort which we enjoyed about the room and we would certainly look to stay again.
Dining at the Bel & Dragon at The George was fantastic. The open restaurant has lots of light pouring in through the day and yet can be toned down to a nice, dark atmosphere in the evening. There is also a window into the kitchen so you can occasionally see the culinary delights being created.
Having been ushered to our table by one of many friendly staff, we were excited to kick off the meal. The Bel & Dragon chain practice the ever more common “Root To Table” method of growing small amounts of products and also utilising local, small-scale and artisan producers.
The chain show this commitment across all of their locations and there is a real passion to support each local community and create a long term relationship with the each producer. Group head chef Ronnie Kimbugwe is also keen to give classic combinations a modern twist and utilise only the finest ingredients.
What we thought…
To begin the meal, I went for the Seared Scottish Scallops & Crispy Pancetta £14. Not that local you may say; however, this dish did offer a modern twist through a delicious addition of candied olives. A gorgeous blend of saltiness and sweetness in the candied olives therefore working in tandem with the classic flavours of the sweet scallop and salty pancetta. This was a great example of a menu attempting to do something new, and succeeding.
The star of the show, however, was a stunning and rather generously sized salt baked lamb. Succulent, full of flavour and accompanied by lots of mint sauce, this has to be up there with some of the best lamb dishes we have tasted. The aim of the salt baking here is to retain the moisture of the lamb and to seal in the natural flavour – and that is exactly what happened. Big enough for 3 or 4, this was a real treat and a special dish that has since been removed from the menu. But we sincerely hope it makes a reappearance.
We have returned back to another Bel & Dragon in the chain to try their very own Burgundy and we feel this would have worked perfectly with the lamb here.
Finishing off what was a great meal, a delicate caramelised lemon tart with elderflower berries & Cornish clotted cream perfectly cleared the palate. Plus, it tasted absolutely stunning on a summer’s day. We also noticed an Eton Mess on the menu, with English strawberries and Jersey Cream. All in all, food was wonderfully fresh and generous with both flavour and portion. Gorgeous!
Our stay at Bel & Dragon at The George was a really fun, satisfying and relaxing experience. From staff to the food to the accommodation, they do everything exceedingly well. Room rates from £115 per night inclusive of VAT and breakfast. Read more here about the chain and the other fantastic locations.
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