Sometimes I love my job. Yesterday was one of those days because I had to go and do a food review at Ripley Castle. I wasn’t really sure what to expect as Ripley doesn’t have a restaurant per se, instead, they offer catering for events from as small as an intimate birthday dinner, to a 200 guest wedding. We’d been told we were going to try a 3-course bespoke menu so I, for one, was excited.
Even though I’m from the area (and went to school with one of the kids who lives in the Castle) I’ve never visited before so I was bowled away by the beautiful village of Ripley. It is gorgeously quaint, and if you take away the cars, you could be in the 1800s. Then we reached the Castle, and it’s a proper castle, even if it’s not as big as Windsor. It’s got whacking great crenellations and a prison block, and there are even musket holes in the walls from where they lined prisoners up during the Civil War and shot them… It’s also got a priest hole, as the Ingilbys (the owners) have always been committed Catholics. The same family has been there for more than 700 years, which is pretty impressive too. It really is a wonderful place, and I got my history geek on. I’m definitely coming back for the official guided tour and I’m bringing Danners or Mr T.
Anyway, to the food. O. M. G. The chef, Ollie, is clearly a culinary genius. To start, we tucked into salmon and langoustine ravioli with crushed peas and han-shineji mushrooms. It looked beautiful, and it tasted even better. Apparently it was served at a private celebration dinner a few weeks ago. Lucky things!
For the main, we were treated to fillet of beef with braised ox cheek, sweet potato puree, shallots and girolles. Apparently, one of the Ingilby sons is getting married in a few months, and this is his main course…for 200 people! It was my idea of heaven, and so far removed from the dry chicken breast you often get served at weddings.
Finally, we had a honey and garden borage pannacotta with blood orange sorbet and a fennel crumb. As pretty as picture, it tasted pretty darn good too, and this is coming from the girl with a serious chocolate problem.
All in all, I had a wonderful few hours at Ripley Castle. I thoroughly recommend you pop over for a visit of the house and the gardens if you get a chance. Although you might not be treated to a meal as excellent as ours, the village of Ripley has a pub, The Boar’s Head, also owned by the Ingilbys, is meant to be brilliant.