Auberge du Lac in the 500-acre Brocket Hall estate in Welwyn, Hertfordshire, is the first public restaurant owned by the CCA Group, operator of 28 clubs in 14 countries, including the London Capital Club.
Situated in the 18th-century hunting lodge which used to house Brocket Hall’s golf clubhouse, the 75-seat restaurant opened to the public in mid-June following a £750,000 refurbishment.
Head chef Paul Hackett has been with CCA for five years and has worked at the company’s clubs in Jakarta, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. Influences he has picked up along the way have been incorporated into Auberge du Lac’s first menu.
Examples of his Far Eastern inspiration can be seen in dishes such as steamed Cornish scallops flavoured with ginger, spring onion and quincey cream; salmon tempura wrapped in seaweed and deep-fried with teriyaki butter; and Oriental layers of almond biscuit with praline, pistachio couverture flavoured with orange confit and hazelnut anglaise.
But Hackett’s classical French training comes to the fore in most dishes on the current dinner menu, which offers a choice of seven starters, four fish dishes, seven main courses and five desserts.
Three courses cost £38 and four courses £45. There is a six-course gourmet menu at £55 and a three-course table d’hôte lunch menu, changed weekly, for £18.50.
Popular dishes from the summer dinner menu include starters of millefeuille of foie gras layered with smoked pigeon, baby morels and balsamic salsa; and warm gêteau of Cornish lobster, Russian Beluga caviare, sea hen eggs and subtle vanilla pod butter. Sea hen is a Scandinavian fish producing eggs 20 times smaller than salmon eggs.
Highlights among the main courses include char-grilled Scottish beef with smoked rîsti potato and rich beetroot sauce. The potatoes are par-cooked before being smoked, while the beetroot sauce comes from an old Mrs Beeton recipe. Also very popular is a rondel of English lamb with a spicy coriander and chilli couscous, glazed with a minted hollandaise.
The most popular dessert at present is the wild strawberry tarte flavoured with mascarpone and strawberry sorbet. A cheeseboard offers a daily changing choice of around 20 British and French cheeses.
Hackett is supported in the kitchen by a 13-strong brigade. They are currently serving a varied number of covers daily as the restaurant establishes itself.
Auberge du Lac, Brocket Hall, Welwyn, Hertfordshire AL8 7XGTel: 01707 368888