Restaurant Review: The Refectory at Stanbrook Abbey, nr Malvern

Restaurant Review: The Refectory at Stanbrook Abbey, nr Malvern
Salt & pepper squid at Stanbrook Abbey

We visited newly refurbished ‘The Refectory’ at Stanbrook Abbey on behalf of WR Magazine to review the restaurant, which can be found on pages of the summer 2019 issue of the magazine. Here’s what we thought…

Stanbrook Abbey has a long and interesting history, and although best known for once being home for a superfluity of Benedictine nuns, the original Stanbrook Hall was first built in the early 16th century for its owner Richard Case. The nuns continued to reside for 150 years at The Abbey until they relocated and it was deconsecrated in 2009. Since then the new Stanbrook Abbey has been transformed into a hotel, and most recently acquired by privately owned country house hotel group, Handpicked Hotels in 2017.

When we email to book we learn that the restaurant is undergoing a refurbishment, so we delay our visit until the work is complete. It is later revealed that that the Grade II listed Stanbrook Abbey Hotel was undergoing a huge £4.2 million makeover designed to celebrate the hotel’s heritage, with the restaurant being moved back to its original position in what was The Old Thompson Dining Hall.

The new brasserie style restaurant is located on the ground floor, and would have been the nun’s refectory, hence adopting its new name ‘The Refectory’. On arrival we were welcomed by General Manager Gordon Burniston who showed us through to the also newly decorated and contemporary George’s Bar, and we enjoyed an aperitif before moving next door to The Refectory Restaurant.

The wine list was presented to us on a tablet, and allowing us to browse through a variety of regions, and click on a wine of choice to discover more about each one. Whilst perusing the list it was suggested by the sommelier that we try something from the ‘while you wait’ selection of antipasti, so we opted for some chorizo links and chilli & garlic bocconcini to get us started, and enjoy with our wine selection.

Pressing of Old Spot Ham at Stanbrook Abbey

The menu comprised of a combination of creative seasonal dishes, alongside some classic favourites such as; battered haddock chips & peas, The Hand Picked burger, a Caesar salad and various cuts of steak from the grill. I began with the pressing of Old Spot ham which was served with a pea purée, focaccia crisp, gherkin and wholegrain mustard. This was a beautiful clean looking, fresh and spring like dish, which tickled the taste buds and was full of flavour. The salt & pepper squid was our other starter choice. The squid was cooked to perfection and seasoned with an Asian style chilli, cucumber, spring onion, mint & soy purée dressing.

Salt & pepper squid at Stanbrook Abbey

We chose equally well for our main courses. I enjoyed the roast salmon served with baby fennel, saffron potato, spinach, Dijon mustard & lime dressing. Another faultless and delicious dish, which despite me thinking would be quite light was actually wonderfully filling and satisfying. Next to me the Welsh lamb Rump, shoulder, carrots textures, fondant & burnt shallot was also a triumph. A side order of tender stem broccoli, aioli & chilli completed the meal.

Roast salmon at Stanbrook Abbey

A waitress clearing our plates recommended that we try her favourite warm treacle tart with Clotted cream. A recommendation that was very well received, particularly by my dining partner who had believed since he was a child until now that he didn’t actually like treacle tart. This particular one admittedly was much less dense than the thick slabs of thick pastry filled tarts that you might come to expect when you’re ordering a pud in your local pub, and indeed a very tasty treacle tart which I too would thoroughly recommend.

A waitress clearing our plates recommended that we try her favourite warm treacle tart with Clotted cream. A recommendation that was very well received, particularly by my dining partner who had believed since he was a child until now that he didn’t actually like treacle tart. This particular one admittedly was much less dense than the thick slabs of thick pastry filled tarts that you might come to expect when you’re ordering a pud in your local pub, and indeed a very tasty treacle tart which I too would thoroughly recommend.

Warm treacle tart at Stanbrook Abbey

It was evident on our visit that the staff undergo a very high level of training and that quality is everything for Handpicked Hotels. The kitchen headed up by head chef David Humphreys presents exceptional food, and the brand new restaurant is without a doubt one of Worcestershire’s finest. The Refectory restaurant isn’t just for the hotel’s guests, this is somewhere for locals to visit too, and they really should!


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