My husband and I recently dined at The Waterside Brasserie at The Arden Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon. Located directly opposite the world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company Theatres, this tastefully decorated boutique hotel is stylish and elegant but with a relaxed, warm and friendly atmosphere.

Carl and I were pleasantly greeted as we were shown to the upstairs Club bar.  Our drinks order was taken and came promptly with bowl of assorted nuts and the menus.  There is a fixed price menu priced at £20 for 2 courses and £25 for 3 courses with an early dining offer, perfect for those of you that are off to see a play at the RSC!  The main menu has something for everyone with five options of every course.  Everything on the menu was described beautifully and I would have been happy to order them all. My husband, who is a Head Chef, couldn’t decide so he asked for the Chef to decide and I chose the Arden fish cake with lemon mayonnaise followed by Sea bass.

Our exceptional waiter Paulo helped us navigate the extensive wine list which features 52 red and white wines, plus a wide choice of Champagnes, sparkling, rose and dessert wines.  A selection of breads arrived with warmed focaccia, granary, bread sticks with olive oil and balsamic.  Next our beautifully presented starters appeared; my simple looking fishcake surprised us with a delightful balance of Salmon, haddock and egg.  Carl’s Scallop dish was an example of faultless timing and an exquisite balance of flavours.

My main was a beautifully cooked Cornish sea bass with crab gnocchi. I mistakenly expected plain gnocchi tossed in a little crab, but was pleasantly surprised to find the crab made into the gnocchi and a true taste star on the plate!

Chef’s choice of main for Carl was the slow cooked Hereford beef short rib, truffle mash, roast carrot, baby onions and mushrooms. Beautiful in every aspect and perfectly matched the red wine selected for it.  The cracked black pepper and sea salt condiments on our table were unused as everything was seasoned to perfection.

For desserts we chose Apple and Blackberry compot and a Pear mille feuille. The compot was excellent but the accompanying apple sorbet deserved a plate of its own, wow.

I’ve never thought to let the Chef decide our menu choices before.  If you think about it, what is the Chef going to cook for you? Obviously the dishes they enjoy cooking the most, the dishes they are proud to present and the tastiest.

We are off to the Theatre next week to see Wendy & Peter Pan and The Arden is top of the billing for a pre theatre glass of champagne and dinner!

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