For me, Christmas is all about feasting. You can keep all your Rudolphs, your santas, and yep, even your Liberty of London advent calendars, as long as I get to feast. And feast I did this week as I enjoyed my first Christmas meal of the season at Paris House Woburn.
Paris House is in the most glorious of settings, on the stunning 22 acre deer park of the Woburn Estate in Bedfordshire. In a building that was pre-fabricated in France, Paris House Woburn was originally built in 1879 in its namesake city as part of a Paris International Exhibition called ‘The Streets of Nations’ . After falling in love with the building the 9th Duke of Bedford had it dismantled and shipped piece by piece back to the UK to be re-built in the stunning grounds of Woburn Abbey. As you do.
140 years later and Paris House Woburn is now a Michelin-recommended restaurant with 3 AA rosettes under the leadership of Executive Chef and owner Phil Fanning, one of our country’s brightest emerging culinary talents (he was a Junior Masterchef champion!). Here, he’s brought his uniquely innovative use of creative Japanese cooking techniques to refine and deliver unmistakably British food.
And it was this unmistakably British food I was there to sample last week as I joined some of my other local blog friends – Hayley Southwood, Sophie from Sophie’s Suitcase and Becky of Pink’s Charming – to explore the Christmas a la carte menu at Paris House Woburn.
We started off with a quick tour of the building which once housed Winston Churchill during the war: it was brought right back into 2018 with a recent top-to-toe refurbishment and is simply lovely. It’s got everything you might need from a fine dining restaurant including a beautiful wine cellar, 2 private dining rooms and gorgeous dining area.
We started our feast at Paris House Woburn with the tastiest of home-baked bread: served with two different butters, one whipped with Marmite, one balsamic vinegar, this was scarfed down (by me… the other ladies were way more classy). I’d chosen a Cinnamon Apple mocktail as an aperitif – a departure from the usual champagne but I was driving – and it was blimmin incredible, like winter in a glass. Who needs booze, eh?!
Our pre-appetisers were AMAZING: beetroot and goats cheese macarons, falafel with tzatziki, bloody mary shots with celery. We wolfed these down ready for our starters, which we’d chosen from the comprehensive Japanese-influenced menu.
I selected the Brandade: the Herb-Crusted Sea Bass with Yukon Gold and Dill Oil. An absolutely spectacular dish, the leeks were the tenderest and most flavoursome I’ve ever enjoyed, the yukon gold potatoes the creamiest mash on acid. The sea bass was delicate and lightly flamed: delicious.
For my main course I chose to stay local and went for the Roast Loin of Venison with black pudding, chicory and hazelnuts. It was a dish with depth, with all the flavours coming together – tender venison, deep jus, slightly tart chicory and sweet hazelnut – to create a gorgeous winter plate. I ate every last bit.
The absolutely piece de la resistance was the most interesting pear dessert I’ve ever eaten: poached, with a caramel parfait and ceps, the earthiness of the cep paired perfectly with the sweetness of the other elements. I could have eaten it twice.
I really was so impressed with our Christmas feast at Paris House Woburn. It’s such a local gem to those local to Milton Keynes, Bedford, Northamptonshire or Hertfordshire, and it’s worth a visit for the glorious setting alone, even on a grey winter’s day. I’ll be back for more in January, and something tells me I’ll be something of a resident on that glorious terrace overlooking the deer park come summer.
Thanks to Paris House Woburn for hosting us this winter.
Paris House Woburn, Woburn Park, Woburn, Bedford MK17 9QP