Hammock Road, Eckington, Worcestershire, WR10 3BJ | (01386) 751600
Eckington Manor is a luxurious country house hotel and cookery school located just over the border in Worcestershire, offering a relaxing base for exploring the Cotswolds, while its restaurant is headed up by Masterchef The Professional 2015 winner, Mark Stinchcombe.
Charcoal emulsion, cotton candy and a contentious tomato salad that cut the television judges in two, SoGlos tucked into Masterchef: The Professionals winner Mark Stinchcombe’s six-courses of on-screen dishes at the sensational Eckington Manor.
Located just outside Gloucestershire in a small village a few miles’ drive from Tewkesbury, Eckington Manor boasts a star attraction drawing in gastronomes from far afield, Masterchef The Professionals winner Mark Stinchcombe – and his equally talented co-chef, and wife, Sue Stinchcombe.
With the summer sun shining, SoGlos was tempted to travel across county lines to the Worcestershire country house manor for the rare opportunity to tuck into some of the winning dishes Mark cooked during his Masterchef journey.
The Masterchef Menu evening was a sell-out and Judy Gardner, the charming pint-sized owner and lady of the manor, personally welcomed a capacity crowd to the restaurant like they were old friends – and many of them were, it turned out.
Wisely opting for the well-priced wine flight to accompany the six-course tasting menu, the evening started with a bang – or more of a pop – with a chilled glass of crisp Champagne Guy Charbaut, before Mark and Sue entered the dining room in their whites to introduce each of the dishes to an evidently admiring crowd.
A trio of amouse bouche: including a bite-sized pork fritter with a blob of Earl Grey-soaked prune puree; crispy artichoke skin, with pickled cherry and cocoa nib; and tender lamb sweetbread with creamy goats curd set the bar exceedingly high from the off.
Before next it was the turn of that tomato salad, the one that fiercely divided the Masterchef judges – and the dining room too – with some fellow diners cheerfully proclaiming it their dish of the night over after-dinner cocktails, while others sided with Marcus Wareing, declaring it a bit too simple. Picked straight from the garden, and adding painterly splashes of colour to the plate, I personally enjoyed the fresh and light antidote to the more complex dishes served and found it perfectly placed within a tasting menu.
But next up was my dish of the evening, and Marcus’s favourite too, the universally popular and impeccably-presented plump trio of scallops, seared beautifully and served with roasted lemon, fresh garden peas, flakes of prosciutto and buttermilk snow for a classic combination with a unique twist. Washed down with a zesty glass of Gilbert Picq & ses Fils’ Chablis, it was the perfect course.
The firm favourite with my carnivorous companion and other enthusiastic diners, meanwhile, was the fillet of beef – a great hunk of meat reared on the 260-acre working farm, married with marrow bone crusted short rib, carrots served three ways and a charcoal emulsion for the ultimate hit of smoky flavor.
We would walk the 13 miles from Cheltenham to sample Mark and Sue Stinchcombe’s sensational cooking again.
A penultimate pleasure, next came a subtle elderflower panna cotta with pretty in pink strawberry parfait, topped with a wild plume of fairground candy floss – which was inspired by the couple’s travels in Thailand and proved a playful highlight in a night packed with six-courses of super food, and the petit fours finale.
So, is Eckington Manor’s Masterchef Menu worth the drive to Worcestershire? If we had to, we would walk the 13 or so miles from Cheltenham to sample Mark and Sue Stinchcombe’s sensational cooking again. County borders and attempts at comedy aside, having the opportunity to tuck into such quality dishes crafted by such a talented – and humble – double act should really be on every discerning foodie’s bucket list, whether you’re an ardent fan of the show or not.
For future tasting menu dates, see Masterchef Menu at Eckington Manor.
By Michelle Fyrne
Thursday 25 August 2016
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