Review: What we thought of plot-to-plate dining at The Glass House at Wynyard Hall

The main house and Wellington dining room may be purely for venue hire now, but the alternative new restaurant at Wynyard Hall is a real glass act.

Saturday, 8th January 2022, 4:55 am

The landmark stately hotel reopened post-lockdown with a new business plan, meaning the former home of the Londonderry family and its palatial features are now only available for hire for weddings and other events.

But hungry visitors to this privately-owned 120-estate needn’t miss out, as The Glass House has now taken over as the site’s main restaurant – and it’s certainly a breath of fresh air from its Wellington predecessor.

Though the latter was certainly grand and opulent (and is still available for afternoon teas on selected dates), The Glass House, situated away from the main house in the kitchen garden, with its own parking, has a much more informal, relaxed feel that’s a lot more accessible.

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The Glass House decor brings the outside indoors

As the name would suggest, The Glass House – housed in one of the UK’s largest garden glasshouses which was restored to its Victorian glory in 2016 – offers panoramic views over the ever-growing kitchen garden, which provides much of the ingredients for the dishes.

They’re views complemented by a heritage palette colour scheme, parquet features, splashes of raffia and plenty of lush foliage to mirror the surroundings.

Whereas the main house is sumptuous and imposing, this is a much more modern offering suitable for just a lazy, family lunch or a special occasion in equal measure. As such, there’s no dress code. This is a place that’s anything but stuffy.

It’s open throughout the day, with dog walkers also welcome in the front lounge area, but we visited on a Saturday evening during a birthday stay in one of the ground’s cottages, which, along with the spa, are still available as normal.

Burrata from the small plates menu

On a weekend night before Christmas, the restaurant was bustling – despite little advertising, it’s proved very popular with locals who regularly fill up bookings, which are only available Wednesdays to Sundays at the minute.

Reflecting the more laid-back ambience, the menus, which change with the seasons, are full of honest, hearty food created with ingredients grown right on the doorstep. It’s billed as ‘plot-to-plate’ dining and food miles certainly can’t be any less than they are here.

Even the non-garden ingredients, such as meat, seafood and dairy, are sourced from suppliers within a 35-mile radius.

At the helm of the kitchen is head chef Kleo Tabaku who’d devised a broad menu of winter warmers for the December menu, ranging from garden vegetable soup and duck and orange pâté with cranberry chutney to garden squash risotto with goat cheese and olive tapenade and confit duck leg with green lentil and garden vegetable stew.

The Glass House is separate from the main house at Wynyard Hall and has an identity all of its own, meaning functions can take place at the main house wholly separate to the restaurant

To start, I chose the burrata with grilled vegetables, sourdough croutons and garden herbs. It was certainly a good-sized portion for £8.50 with two satisfying mounds of creamy cheese which were given a winter twist with the grilled veg.

For mains, I had the dry aged flat iron steak, which I asked for rare (although it’s recommended medium rare). It was a beautifully-juicy piece of meat, packed with natural flavour and, at £23, it was great value for money served with kale salad, huge chips that were the perfect balance of a crisp outside and fluffy inside and a dense peppercorn sauce.

Indeed, considering the quality ingredients and execution of the dishes, prices are very fair.

We couldn’t quite shoe-horn in a dessert, but sweet tooths are set to be satisfied with options such as The Glass House tiramisu (£7), sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream (£6.50) and dark chocolate mousse with white chocolate ganache and cherry compote (£6.50).

Flat iron steak from the mains menu

Much care and consideration has gone into the wine list too, with a range to suit all palates, including some more unusual English wines to wet your whistle.

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The Glass House underwent a major restoration in 2016 before opening as a dedicated restaurant post-pandemic