Back in 2012 The Castle Hotels board of directors made some serious changes to the general operation and the future direction of the hotel, they decided to close the existing restaurant and re-launched the new restaurant with Liam Finnegan heading up the kitchen and the menus (there is a classic recipe from Liam at the end of this feature). Kit Chapman, Proprietor of The Castle at Taunton states in his blog
“With these changes, it was inevitable that the 2013 edition of the Good Food Guide would dump us! Although, very sweetly, the Editor still listed The Castle among the Guide’s “Longest-serving restaurants” – in our case 27 years! We aim to be reinstated in 2014!”
Following a year’s absence from the Good Food Guide, The Castle in Taunton returns with Somerset’s top restaurant ranking for 2014. The Good Food Guide describes The Castle Hotel as “Superb in every way” and complemented Chef Liam Finnegan’s “carefully considered cooking”. Liam Finnegan is an award winning cook whose career experience includes The Bath Priory and Gidleigh Park as well as a stint in Pierre Gagnaire’s famous 3-star restaurant in Paris. With credentials like that, it is no wonder the Castle is back with one hell of a bang.
The respected Good Food Guide also said of this epic achievement, “A lusciously elegant, 1920’s-style dining room, overseen by assured and friendly staff, makes a relaxed but suitably special setting for imaginative and creative dishes informed by classic techniques and flavour combinations”.
In response to this news, Kit Chapman at The Castle commented; “I am absolutely thrilled to be back in The Good Food Guide. I am very proud of our great young team both in the kitchen and front of house”.
The Castle Hotel at Taunton is a hotel and restaurant located in the centre of Taunton in Somerset. The business is located in a Grade II listed 18th-century reconstruction of the former 12th-century Norman fortress, Taunton Castle. In 1685 the Duke of Monmouth used Taunton Castle as a base before his troop’s defeat by King James II at Sedgemoor. Judge Jeffreys then held his Bloody Assizes in the Great Hall of the Castle. The building incorporates Castle Bow a Grade I listed building which originally formed the east gate to the Castle precincts. It still has 13th century chamfered arches, and corner buttresses with setoffs.
Today the Castle lives at peace with its rebellious past, affirming its position as a social, business and cultural magnet for visitors from home and abroad. As well as offering luxury accommodation and first class dining, The Castle also caters for weddings and offers Conference & Meeting Rooms.
Dining at The Castle.
With a string of successful chefs including Gary Rhodes and Phil Vickery, the incredibly talented Liam Finnegan now heads The Castle’s kitchens and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining, with the Castle Bow Bar & Grill, BRAZZ and Private Dining on offer. The Castle’s philosophy of using only the best local ingredients translates into a dining experience that highlights the West Country at its finest.
To sample fine dining at its best, you might want to try Chef Liam’s Tasting Menu, a steal at £52 per person, featuring dishes such as Brixham Scallops, Wild Quantock Hill Rabbit and Roast Sirloin, Parsley, Celeriac and Fondant Potato. Also available in the Castle Bow Bar and Grill is Prix Fixe Menu, offering Two-courses for £27 or Three-courses for £34. This is incredible value for dishes which might include, Hand Picked Dartmouth Crab, Lasagne of Wild Rabbit, Wood Blewits and Chervil Cream Sauce, Summer Truffle and Hazelnut, Leek and Red Vein Sorrel.
If you fancy something lively and light hearted in Taunton, then BRAZZ at The Castle would be my recommendation, with outstanding food inspired by the produce of the region. BRAZZ is where you’ll want to be for breakfast, coffee, a lunchtime snack, drinks after work or dinner with friends.
On the BRAZZ menu, you might fancy Classic Caesar Salad with Chicken and Bacon, Award Winning Brazz Burgers: Lamb and Mint or Beef, served with Melted Cheddar, Gherkin Relish, Tomato, Red Onion Jam, House Dressing and Chips. Perhaps you would like to share The Butcher’s Board, with Confit Duck Leg, Chicken Liver Parfait, Breaded Chicken, Cauliflower Piccalilli, Pickled Onions and Bread, and who can resist everyone’s favourite, “Fish & Chips”? Beer Battered Brixham Haddock with Minted Peas & Tartare Sauce.
If you are staying as a hotel guest at The Castle then breakfast plays a vital role in the whole experience. If like me, you are a bit of a “foodie” then you will agree the importance of the first meal of the day. I actually heavily score hotel breakfasts when I review, and sometimes it can be make or break! I know a Michelin Chef who insists on being in the kitchen for breakfast service, this, is the sign of a passionate chef in my opinion.
Awarded the Certificate of Excellence for 2013 and with a rather impressive collection of TripAdvisor reviews where over 75% of customers rate The Castle as very good or excellent, 84% of reviews from Booking.com are rated excellent and LateRooms.com show customer recommendations at 87%. This combined with the prestigious reinstatement to the 2014 Good Food Guide as Somerset’s “top restaurant ranking”, you really are in for a culinary treat with luxurious comfort thrown in!
400g goat’s cheese log
120g Greek yoghurt
10 un-ripened strawberries
100ml balsamic vinegar
Fresh herbs and salad leaves to dress
To prepare your goat’s cheese, remove the rind and leave to come to room temperature. Blend in food processor with the Greek yoghurt until smooth; season to taste. Place in a disposable piping bag and leave to rest in fridge until serving.
For the garnish, dice half the strawberries finely and place in the balsamic vinegar / syrup. With the remaining strawberries cut into desired shapes, leave to the side.
Cut the plums into halves and quarters and lightly char grill – this adds a more depth to the plum and more flavour.
To serve, remove the strawberries from the balsamic and use to dress the plate with the plums and remaining strawberries. Reduce balsamic by half to intensify – try not to add sugar as it’s quite a fresh sweet dish. Dress with hazelnuts and leaves.
This dish requires a lot of balance between sweet and sour. Make sure your fruit is not too ripe. The balsamic will cut through the goat’s cheese and go perfect with the fruit and nuts.