Kings Arms Hotel, Old Amersham, Restaurant Review

  • Tracy
  • 24/08/2013 4:47 pm

Tucked away in a quiet corner of England is a gastronomic gem better known by overseas visitors than local residents.

Kings Arms Hotel

The reason for this is that until recently ‘food’ wasn’t considered much of a priority by the owners of the Kings Arms Hotel in Old Amersham, so hotel guests usually tended to eat elsewhere.

That’s all changed thanks to the input of local hotelier Peter St Lawrence who also runs The Greyhound in Chalfont St Peter and took over the management and co-ownership of the Kings Arms Hotel in late 2012.

Since then he has put in a new professional kitchen, refurbished the restaurant and introduced a chef who started his career under the tutelage of the famous Anton Edelmann at the Savoy and was soon promoted to become the youngest sous chef ever to be employed at the Savoy.

The chef – Nana Ntiri Akuffo (who also happens to an African Prince!) – has introduced two new simple, yet delicious menus for the bar and restaurant that in my view perfectly reflect the character of the historic coaching inn.

Fine dining AmershamAt first glance the menu appears to be nothing out of the ordinary.  So when I sampled a couple of the restaurant dishes for lunch the other day, I started to think that maybe it was the pleasant surroundings that made the food taste so exceptional.

I was sitting in the sunshine, on a stylish terrace (with comfortable patio furniture to boot!) – so perhaps my starter of asparagus had been blessed by some extra flavours from the suns rays!

Whilst I realised that this was unlikely, I had been deep in conversation when the food arrived, so it took me a few moments to work out what it was that made this seemingly simple dish (which I’ve eaten on numerous previous occasions) so outstandingly delicious. Then I remember that truffle oil had been mentioned on the menu – and thankfully (considering the £8.50 price tag) the kitchen clearly hadn’t scrimped on the proportion of this highly sought after oil!

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I’ve eaten dishes with truffle oil before and not been blown away, so this was either a superior quality truffle oil, or more generously proportioned, yet the dish wasn’t too oily either.  Perhaps it was simply the exacting combination and balance of flavours from the asparagus, parmesan, salad, oil and other seasonings that only experienced chefs such as Nana can achieve.  Whatever it was, it was definitely a perfect combination.

There aren’t many opportunities to enjoy genuine fine dining al fresco style in Britain, so I was now thoroughly enjoying this rare treat of English summer and very much looking forward to the main course.  I had deliberately ordered chicken as an easy ingredient to enable me to assess the quality of the food sourcing as well as the cooking and I couldn’t have been more pleased.  I usually avoid chicken when eating out, as it is hard to find the quality of produce that I buy from my local butcher, but again I was delighted by the combination of flavours that leapt out from the chicken, wild mushrooms, broccoli and thyme sauce.

My lunch companion reported that she was similarly impressed by the fresh flavours of the var smoked salmon, tempura king prawns and cucumber salad, and the pan fried lemon sole, prawns, beurre noisette and Jersey royals – thus highlighting that Nana hasn’t lost any of the flair that so impressed the great Anton Edelmann earlier in his career.

There are so many pub and restaurants these days claiming to serve quality food that the term has rather lost it’s meaning.  So it’s a particular pleasure to find that the Kings Arms really does live up to its claims – producing dishes which sound simple, but executing them so well that they both surprise and delight the taste buds with their outstanding combination of flavours.  Try it for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.

Click here for more details about the Kings Arms

 


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