Dinner at: Pavilion Restaurant, Hilton Garden Inn, Stopsley

Hidden highlights at the Hilton - a big welcome and good food make the day for food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne

Hidden highlights at the Hilton - A big welcome and good food make the day for food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne

About the restaurant

The Pavilion Restaurant at the Hilton Garden Inn at Butterfield is tucked away inside a striking parent building, with no external clue to what it’s like. On the plus side, the website puts it in the ‘contemporary brasserie style’ bracket and the Hilton brand is usually a good sign.

Atmosphere and decor

Despite the barrack-like appearance of the guestroom wings, the Garden Inn’s public areas are all space and light, leading to a cheerful open-plan restaurant. Tables are well laid out, but paper as opposed to linen napkins are a surprise given the upmarket aspirations of the brand.

Service

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Full service is one of the things Garden Inn makes a point of, and the Pavilion provided a good example of it. Passing trade seems a rarity and there was an automatic assumption we were hotel guests, but we were nevertheless treated to a full-on welcome with lots of smiles and chat and the usual check that things were to our liking.

The menu

Boasting ‘fresh and healthy local ingredients’ (but who doesn’t these days?), the food offer was middle of the road. Mini-meatballs in a warm tomato and oregano sauce stood out among the starters, while most adventurous main course was chicken breast filled with a black pudding mousse and wrapped in pancetta, but you probably have to be in the mood.

To start

Strips of smoked chicken with tomato chutney and seasonal leaves (�5.95) caught my companion’s eye and were enthusiastically polished off. I selected an old favourite, goat’s cheese and caramelised red onion tart (�4.95), also a good choice though the cheese was a little bland. Chicken satay with a cucumber salad might have been an option.

Main courses

Herb crusted rack of lamb with new potatoes, green beans and a red wine reduction sauce (�14.95) proved a successful choice across the table, while the pan-fried rainbow trout fillets with parsley crushed new potatoes and broccoli (�10.95) took my vote, confirming our view that the food was better than we had expected.

Desserts

Top tempters, all at �4.95, include Belgian chocolate mousse with vanilla poached orange segments and handmade shortbread, or a meringue nest filled with cr�me Chantilly, spiced berries and seasonal fruit reduction. Treacle tart was available for traditionalists.

The experience

Talk about not judging a book by its cover – we could easily have been put off by the eccentric building, but the Garden Inn produced a selection of good food at a good price with pleasant service in a comfortable environment. We’ve had far worse at much better-looking places.

The cost of this dinner was �52.05 including two large glasses of wine, plus service.

BOOK A TABLE

Hilton Garden Inn

Butterfield

Hitchin Road

Stopsley LU2 8DD

01582 435300

www.hiltongardeninn.hilton.co.uk/lutonnorth

This is an independent review featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and drink editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.

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