[Leamington Spa, Warwickshire] The Dining Room at Mallory Court

We’ve eaten here before – lunch back in 2013, when the restaurant held a Michelin star (losing it, somewhat to my surprise, shortly after). This time, we were staying at the hotel for a couple of nights and had dinner in the Dining Room on the first night.

Drinks in the lounge came with a couple of really successful canapes – a beetroot macaron sandwiched a well flavoured salmon mousse and a cube of long cooked pigs head in a crispy coating was pretty much essence of piggy. Once seated, there was excellent bread – three types of which a sourdough was an absolute stand-out. The amuse bouche came shortly after – a cauliflower cream, with bits of cauli, black pudding and apple.

A root vegetable salad was entirely seasonal with the produce apparently coming from the restaurant’s kitchen garden – baby carrots, turnip, beetroot, kale – and a scoop of truffled cream cheese. The other starter was quail – lightly cooked breast and a raviolo of confit leg, with sweetcorn from the garden and a quail and lovage sauce.

That was followed by more game, in the form of local venison. A couple of chunks of loin, perfectly presented at medium rare and another long cooked bit of probably shoulder. There’s some bits and bobs of vegetables, including entirely seasonal wild mushrooms and a really well crafted venison sauce.

Across the table, a fillet of brill had also been perfectly cooked to the “just flaking “ stage. It came with borlotti beans, artichokes and mushrooms. A good champagne sauce here as well.

We often pass on dessert, as they can be a bit “meh” but, by this stage of the meal, we’d learned they are hopeful of regaining their Michelin star, so thought we’d see if they could do sweet as well as savoury. Yes, they can. For one of us, a warm chocolate tart – thin crisp chocolate pastry, with a ganache filling, topped with mint ice cream. It was rich but not overly sweet or cloying. The other one featured a meringue shell filled with a lime custard, together with a scattering of blueberries and a blueberry sorbet. Again, not overly sweet and, as such, entirely successful. We finished with coffee (not piping hot) and petit fours.

This was, to my mind, certainly Michelin quality food, and I wish them well. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if Michelin decided they weren’t quite developed enough yet.