Restaurant Review: Auberge du Lac, Welwyn

The Auberge du Lac has built up quite a following. But can it live up to expectations? Clare Bourke finds out

Auberge du LacWelwyn, Hertfordshire AL8 7XG01707 368888http://www.aubergedulac.co.uk/

About the restaurantAuberge du Lac, Brocket Hall's former Hunting Lodge, has gained a national reputation as one of the most interesting out-of-London restaurants in the country. The restaurant is under the expert guidance of Executive Chef Phil Thompson who gained his first Michelin star this year.

First impressionsDrawing up to the imposing front gates, diners have to buzz reception to gain entrance and then follow the meandering drive through to Auberge. As you park and walk down to the restaurant, the lake and Brocket Hall come into view behind the restaurant. There is an instant welcoming feeling as you step inside and then head to the terrace for an aperitif as you peruse the menu.

Atmosphere and d�corThe restaurant has a light and airy main room with windows looking out onto the lake and the hall beyond as well as a room towards the back for cosier dining, more suited to evenings. Tables are nicely spaced to give an intimate feel and there is clearly attention to detail in every aspect.

ServiceAuberge employs a large team of staff, each with their own assigned role meaning they work together seamlessly to ensure diners are well looked after. Wine and water glasses were carefully monitored and replenished promptly and waiters were quick to ensure every need was addressed.

To startAuberge offers a three-course lunch menu for �35 a head on Saturdays. My husband chose the Foie Gras and Chicken Liver Parfait, Toasted Granola, Smoked Duck Salad and Sauternes Jelly. The parfait was rich and creamy and complimented well by the nutty granola. I chose the White Onion and Madeira Velout�, Wild Mushroom Arancini and Parmesan. A bowl containing the three arancini were set in front of me and the creamy velout� poured on top. It was delicious and gone far too soon.

For mainTo follow my husband chose the Sole Meunire On The Bone, Cavallo Nero, Celery, Wild Mushroom Pomme Pur�e and Sauce Bonne Femme. This was a very generously sized piece of fish which just fell away from the bones and was well complimented by the potato puree. I could not resist the Slow Roast Sirloin of British Excellence Beef, Crushed New Potatoes, Roast Cherry Tomatoes and Roasting Jus. The meat was cooked perfectly and full of flavour although I was not keen on the addition of the cherry tomatoes which were very sweet.

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To finishThe Caramelised White Peach Tatin, Raspberries and Fromage Frais Ice Cream was my husband's choice. It was sweet with just the right sharpness and a delicious pastry. I chose the Chocolate Orange Panna Cotta, Grand Marnier Caramel Oranges and White Chocolate Sorbet. The panna cotta was delightful and perfectly matched to the Grand Marnier oranges, with the sorbet making a sweet addition.

Our experienceAuberge is not somewhere to head to every Saturday lunchtime but should be kept as a rare treat so it remains just that, a treat. It is an indulgent experience offering excellent quality of food, always well presented, and attentive service, the perfect place for a special occasion or a romantic meal for two. Plan ahead as it can get very booked up at weekends.The cost of a two-course lunch for two was �126.45 including a bottle of 2005 Tocai Friulano Italian white wine at �33, bottle of sparkling water and a 10% service charge.

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