Read our expert review of Wild Carrot, a new bar and restaurant at the Four Seasons hotel group in Hampshire.
Wild Carrot in a nutshell
Run by the Four Seasons Hotel group, Wild Carrot, a new bar and restaurant at the chain’s Hampshire edition, has had investment poured into it. The space, designed by Martin Brudnizki – he’s furnished everywhere from Le Caprice and Annabel’s, to Dean Street Townhouse and The Ivy – has the obligatory modish banquette seating, herringbone floors and statement Victorian lanterns. The modern British menu is by chef Dirk Gieselmann (previously at a Four Seasons hotel in South Africa) and newly appointed Adam Falgrin.
Wild Carrot restaurant review
This Georgian manor and its 500 acres of parkland, dating to the Domesday Book, is a decent central spot for exploring Jane Austen country, Winchester (here are our favourite places to eat and drink) and Highclere Castle. So when we visit on a Thursday evening, the restaurant is alive with punters, despite its remote location.
We’re invited to the bar first, where we meet staff touchingly elated by the refurbishment. I can see why, it’s bustling with voguish design; curated bookshelves nestle cosily next to retro armchairs and pretty wallpaper.
The cocktail list is ambitious (expect to pay more than your average), split under headings like At Home in the Countryside, celebrating local ingredients, and Old Guard, classic cocktails from the yesteryear. We delve into the section inspired by Dogmersfield Park, the surrounding estate we’re in. The Great Fire, a twist on a Bloody Mary with tequila, mescal, tomato, olive and basil, is good enough. The Garden, a nod to the 1690’s walled garden encompassing this beautiful hotel, is dense with ‘foliage’, at the top. It’s not a great look as I slurp cheek-achingly hard on a straw to access to the Silent Pool gin, sloe gin, violet and lavender, below.
Dinner commences in the restaurant area next door. The menu supports local producers, so ingredients like Old Winchester cheese and Surrey Farm sirloin are referenced. We’re swiftly delivered starters. Salmon tartare with poached egg, watercress and lemon creme fraiche is lacking seasoning but nevertheless polished off. Cornish scallops, parsnip, kalamansi, spinach and eyringi mushroom is nicely textured but there’s a vinegary oomph meaning the gentle, sweetness of the scallop gets lost. The oxtail fagots are a melt-in-the-mouth comfort. All of it is delivered by a helpful front of house team, who serve us a bottle of Schlumberger Gewurztraminer 2014.
For the mains, the highlight is a partridge pie, appropriately autumnal and nourishing, heaving with savoy cabbage, foie gras (somehow not discernible) and mushrooms. I can’t help coveting the Hereford prime rib (to serve two) on our table. We finish with a middling sticky toffee pudding, and a blackberry cheesecake of a similar standard. No complaints but no wow.
Menu must-order at Wild Carrot…
The oxtail fagots were yielding parcels of well-seasoned meatiness.