By EssentialsMAG food critic SALLY ANGLESEA
Oscar’s Brasserie at Rossett Hall Hotel
Chester Road, Rossett, Wrexham LL12 0DE
Cost for three course meal, for two people, without drinks: £55 - £65
My relationship with hotel restaurants is very similar to many people’s expectations around first dates - I’ll give them a go but will be fully prepared to leave dissatisfied or in the worst-case scenario, through the toilet window.
With this in mind, I walked into Oscar’s Brasserie, Rossett Hall, somewhat trepidatiously…will the menu be underwhelming and overpriced? Will the carpet be stained with remnants of this morning’s breakfast service? Will the toilet window be big enough for me to crawl out of? Before I had a chance to even consider measuring up the double glazing, I was warmly greeted by our waiter, Ethan. He was friendly, welcoming, and his endless knowledge of the restaurant’s gin and tonic selection bordered on inspiring. I tried to catch him out with an elderflower curve ball but alas, he caught it and threw it right back to me, with a slice of lemon.
The design of the restaurant is two-fold; pastel shades of green and blue calm and soothe the senses, whilst quirkily patterned, mis-matched chairs ignite and delight them. Think ‘Alice In Wonderland’…but less shisha-smoking caterpillars, more retired Mad Hatter who now fondly holds on to memories of madness through his wacky taste in furniture. That sort of vibe.
From culinary classics to more innovative wonders, the menu at Oscar’s is diverse and delectable - any restaurant that offers chunks of beef fillet with toasted ciabatta as a starter immediately holds a special place in my heart. I was delighted to be dining with not one but TWO glorious friends of mine, Fiona and John, which means I have three extra courses to sumptuously recollect this month. So, without further waffle…
Stilton Croquette. Two words I now forever want to see joined in matrimony. Opposites most certainly attracted in this satisfying dish of contrasts: a crispy breadcrumb coating concealed a soft, creamy centre; rich and tangy with just the right amount of blue cheese. Sweet bites of fragrant saffron-poached pear cut through the saltiness and complemented the earthy edge of sweet potato pureé perfectly. Flavours of stem ginger in the dressing were lacking but I admire this intuitive flavour pairing and can imagine the spicy warmth working very well with the rest of the dish. John made a wise choice with this refined yet hearty starter – although given the fact that I ‘had to’ keep trying it, he may disagree.
Fiona opted for Smoked Salmon, which proved to be a rather delightful twist on the canapé classic. A large yet light and airy, homemade blini formed the foundation of this elegant appetiser. Curls of sliced smoked salmon lacked in wild, orange vibrancy but the subtle, smoky flavour they delivered made up for their pale complexion. Slightly sharp lip-smackings of pickled shallot worked very well amidst an otherwise delicate gathering of delights, whilst fried bites of beautiful lotus root contributed the occasional crunch.
Having eaten the majority of my friends’ starters (don’t hate the player, hate the game), I proceeded to dig in to my Pork Belly. Just as this cut of pork should be; the meat was moist and the fat was crisp. Celeriac remoulade lacked seasoning, but its crunch and creaminess cut through the soft, smoky black pudding well. Despite its predictability, the addition of apple pureé was an essential component; introducing a welcome sweetness to an otherwise salty and savoury dish.
At this point, I’m impressed. The toilet window remains firmly intact and as the second courses arrive, I am already considering a second date...
Once again, John came through with the winning dish: Welsh Lamb Rump. Two plump medallions of tender, ruby hued lamb sat amidst a satisfying pool of rich redcurrant jus, alongside creamy butterbean purée and sticky, sweet balsamic onions. The beauty of this dish was in the detail and the meticulous presentation; from a perfect cross section of crisp fennel to a carefully French-trimmed carrot, every element was carefully considered and delicately executed.
Fiona’s Seabass was a wild and wonderful celebration of flavour, which brought together an unlikely assembly of seemingly disparate ingredients. It was the culinary equivalent of the X Factor ‘reject band’ – a group made up of singers who are average as solo artists, but as a collective are mind-blowing. The dish presented a harmonious gathering of sweet pomegranate jewels, teamed with bitter bites of crunchy celery; smoky, slightly fiery peppercorns; and pungent spheres of spring onion, all of which complimented the fresh fillets of soft, delicate seabass perfectly. In principle, it shouldn’t have worked; in reality, it really did. Just to clarify – it worked as a plate of food, not a musical ensemble. As the latter, it would be rubbish.
My Pan Fried Chicken Supreme was perhaps the least exciting out of the three main courses but each classic component was executed with precision and flair. The crisp-skinned chicken was juicy and generously portioned. The Ostropel sauce was rich and tangy with fresh tomatoes and roasted garlic. The tiered portion of Pommes Anna was buttery and soft. Even the slightly charred florets of cauliflower were a joy to devour.
At this point, even if I had wanted to crawl out of the toilet window, I wouldn’t have been able to, due to the almost certain inevitability of getting stuck. So, with my appetite and taste buds firmly satisfied, I graciously exited through the front door.
I am of course joking. On to dessert:
Oscar’s dessert menu is a hearty hub of homely and totally homemade classics. Fiona’s Eaton Mess quickly became an eaten one, as she devoured the sweet, slightly tart, creamy, crunchy chaos before branding it ‘the best Eaton Mess I’ve ever had.’ My chocolate mousse was dense and decadent – bitter with dark chocolate and sweet with the accompanying crimson strawberry pureé.
It’s safe to say, we were delighted with our dessert decision making - until we tried John’s, who, to be honest, by this point was just showing off. He opted for the ultimate British comfort: Sticky Toffee Pudding. It’s a classic – and so easy to get wrong, mainly because of the nourishing nostalgia that so many of us have rooted within memories of its abundant indulgence. Oscar’s rendition, however, was far from a disappointment. The satisfyingly squidgy cake was submerged in a plentiful pool of golden, toffee-rich sauce, which was buttery and toasty and every other scrumptiously warming adjective you can think of. The finishing touch was a cooling sphere of vanilla seed-studded ice cream, which melted into the treacle-rich dessert with the seductive sensuality of a slo-mo Baywatch beach run. Just replace the beach with sponge cake and Pamela Anderson with a scoop of the good stuff.
NOTE: I strongly advise you not to indulge in slo-mo viewings of Pamela Anderson whilst eating this dessert at the same time because…well…one can only take so much joy.
Oscar’s at Rossett Hall is deliciously dispelling the assumption that hotel restaurants need sizeable toilet windows. Nestled within fairy light speckled trees in the heart of a homely Welsh village, this restaurant is delivering locally sourced food with passion and precision; teaming culinary classics with admirably intuitive twists. If you are yet to visit this sumptuous spot or are perhaps looking to woo a first date in a lush location, pull out your red carnation and book in at Oscar’s.
I expect an invitation to the wedding.
The Early Bird catches the…Early Bird Menu: Monday – Saturday, 12 – 7pm, two courses for £14.95. What’s not to love?!
Gluten Freedom! Oscar’s offer a wide selection of GF dishes and the majority of those that aren’t, can be altered to suit this dietary requirement upon request.
Sweet (and Savoury) Dreams: Dinner is sorted - and with very reasonably priced rooms on offer, why not make a night of it? Room start from £79.
For more foodie fanaticism and photos, follow Sally on Instagram: @gingernutsaboutfood