Reviewing The Millstream Hotel in Bosham
PUBLISHED: 06:49 26 November 2019
Enjoying Mediterranean flavours at The Millstream in Bosham
The Millstream Hotel is straight out of a fairy tale. It begins with a trip-trap over a little wooden bridge, which crosses a stream and deposits visitors onto a rose-lined lawn. Once there, prorogued parliaments and political in-fighting seem a world away.
Starting life as three 17th-century workmen's cottages, the wholesome-looking red brick building is now home to a family-run hotel of 35 rooms and two restaurants - the brasserie-style Marwick's and the more formal Millstream Restaurant. Under chef Neil Hiskey's watchful eye, the kitchen runs the gamut of hotel dining, providing light lunches, cream teas, evening meals, and breakfast for overnight guests.
Impeccably dressed staff look up momentarily from their napkin-folding to wish me a good evening as I pass into the muted cocoon of the Millstream Restaurant. The dining room is empty, but at 6.15pm on a Tuesday evening, I'm not surprised. What does surprise me is how quickly the tables are taken one by one until it's completely full. But, of course, options are limited in the small village of Bosham.
I feel young again. Not only because every other person in the room, save for the staff, is at least 30 years my senior, but because it's just the sort of place my grandparents would've taken me for a special treat. Anachronistic it may be, but in all the best ways. Staff are extremely courteous, the kitchen is a closely-guarded secret, candles stand to attention on every table, and I'm the only one with my phone out (and desperately wishing I'd brought a notebook).
A single page of starters, main courses and desserts reads incredibly well and causes me no end of trouble. There's a good wine list, too, but, as ever, I'm disappointed to see that there aren't any English wines available, not even in the Sparkling section. Amuse-bouches should be elegant and gutsy in equal measure, and the tomato and red pepper gazpacho fulfils both criteria. It also stops me from hankering for a third slice of the deliciously-springy raisin loaf.
The salad of Pulborough-grown Nutbourne tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, olive tapenade and smooth romesco sauce (£9.50) is a dream of summer, made with the kind of attention to detail a simple dish like this deserves. Texture is key, so the tomatoes have been peeled to stop anything getting in the way of their beautifully soft flesh, there are croutons and toasted almond flakes for crunch, and the olives have been roughly chopped so as not to resemble a green mush.
I'm still floating on a Mediterranean-flavoured high when the chicken arrives. Summer is but a wistful memory as I tuck into a golden plate of Creedy Carver chicken breast, herby fried gnocchi, local mushrooms, sprouting broccoli, and hazelnuts (£23.50). A lemon-spiked ricotta is an autumn breeze through deep woodland flavours.
Sandwiched between crisp brandy-snap discs, the creamy lemon curd mousse (£8.50) is surrounded by a pool of glistening raspberry coulis and topped with a crème fraiche sorbet. The brandy snap is all the sweetness needed to temper the sharp and sour notes. I order a coffee to delay my departure from the land where only good things happen. There are no villains here; only quietly confident cooking that manages to avoid all the pitfalls of hotel dining. I leave the Millstream on a cloud of sheer contentment, but with a longing for simpler times.