In his new restaurant at the Compleat Angler hotel in Marlow, Dean Timpson explains that he can focus much more on the food offering. Gaby Huddart went to visit
After more than seven years as executive chef at Marlow's Compleat Angler hotel Dean Timpson was offered the opportunity of opening a restaurant with his name above the door at the 64-bedroom property. Although his initial reaction was one of surprise and "reluctance, because I'm a quiet chef who simply likes being in the kitchen cooking", he is now "completely fired up" by his new environment.
In fact, the 36-seat restaurant, which launched at the beginning of May, breaks new ground not only for Timpson but also for Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, marking the first time the privately owned group has given one of its chefs such a platform and a share in the success of the restaurant, which operates as a joint venture.
Almost £1m was spent on creating fine-dining restaurant Dean Timpson at the Compleat Angler and the hotel's other eaterie, the brasserie-style Bowaters, by dividing the former Riverside restaurant in two.
Timpson explains that cooking for a far smaller number of covers than before and being able to focus exclusively on the restaurant - which is open for lunch Wednesday to Sunday and for dinner Tuesday to Saturday - is allowing him to significantly raise the level of cooking. He has also sourced new suppliers for the restaurant, so is working with the very best ingredients. "And the five of us in the kitchen are all here for every service, so we can achieve a level of consistency not previously possible," he says. "We've had three AA rosettes at the hotel until now, and with this new restaurant I want to push that to a higher level."
At lunch, as well as the à la carte, Timpson offers a three-course market menu for £24.50, with three options per course. Crayfish and smoked salmon tortellini with red chard is among the current starters on this menu, with fillet of turbot with pea and truffle risotto among the mains, and passion fruit mousse with mango jelly and coconut ice-cream a dessert option.
In the evening, alongside the à la carte, a six-course tasting menu is offered and is selling strongly, with about 25% of diners choosing it. Meanwhile, the à la carte features five dishes at each course, with dishes selling evenly across the menu, says Timpson.
Duck eggs from a local farm are put to good use in a starter of poached duck egg with asparagus and morel foam (£10), while sautéd scallops with English pea purée and a confit of pork belly (£15) is a similarly seasonal alternative to start.
At main course Timpson is particularly proud of the loin of rabbit and langoustine with prune purée and cabbage (£24). "It's a dish I've been working on for six years, and I've now got it exactly as I want it," he says. "It's a lovely balance between earthy, savoury and sweet flavours."
Timpson also offers a separate Sunday lunch menu with three courses for £39.50, and he has also just introduced separate vegetarian and vegetarian tasting menus.
The restaurant is currently achieving an average of 25 covers at lunch and dinner during the week, with full houses at weekend services.
What's on the menu
- Duo of foie gras with pineapple purée and caramelised pineapple, £14
- Quail ballotine wrapped in Parma ham with rhubarb purée and pickled walnuts, £13
- Cornish red mullet with saffron mayonnaise and a tomato dressing, £12.50
- Roast suckling pig with pak choi and Granny Smith apple sauce, £26
- Cornish monkfish wrapped in Parma ham with marinated tomatoes and asparagus, £23
- Fillet of sea bass with orange dressing, baby spinach, clam and razor clam lasagne, £27.50
- Dark chocolate soufflé with mint ice-cream, £7.50
- Strawberry parfait wrapped in chocolate with honeycomb caramel, £8
- Chilled apricot soup and apricot mousse served with Champagne, £7.50
Dean Timpson at the Compleat Angler, Marlow, Buckinghamshire SL7 1RG. Tel: 01628 481971. Website: www.deantimpson.co.uk