Aaah The Cottonwood; House Magazine’s favourite boutique hotel. Having attended the launch of their recent ‘chocolate buffet’, we were thrilled to receive an invite to the unveiling of their new summer menu. No sooner did the email come through, did the team gather their things and make their way over.
We sat in their hot pink dining room; the walls adorned with gilded mirrors, grand paintings and velvet fabrics. You could never say that the décor was ordinary, but never the less always eye-catching.
As we sat down we were each handed a menu entitled ‘Dinner Table D’hote Menu’. Creating a menu for a hotel is always challenging. With a broad variety of guests always coming and going, it’s all about creating something for everyone to enjoy. Looking at the options it was clear that this was an eclectic menu, with European, Mediterranean and even Eastern influences throughout the various courses.
The Garden Restaurant at the Cottonwood Boutique Hotel is run by executive chef Edward Lopes and Sous Chef Jonathan France. We got the opportunity to ask their team what the thoughts behind the menu were; “I want to produce high-quality tasty food that caters to all our clients. I’m keen to use locally produced, fresh goods. Born in Brazil and raised on Italian cooking gives me the opportunity to experiment with different flavours from around the world”, says Lopes.
We decided to skip the starts and head straight to the main event, among our choices was the ‘Red Thai Chicken Curry’, ‘Potato Gnocchi’, ‘8OZ Sirloin Steak’ and the ‘Pan Roasted Duck Breast’. I had opted for the Gnocchi. Served in a seriously moreish wild rocket pesto sauce, toasted pine nuts and an oversized cheese crouton, it was a delightful dish. The pasta itself was lovely, light and fluffy with just the right amount of starchiness. I coated every pasta pillow in the creamy sauce, using the pine nuts as a sort of breadcrumb coating before taking a bite.
Other comments around the table included a glowing review from Ben, who thoroughly enjoyed his Red Thai Chicken Curry; “It’s pretty tasty. It’s got a little kick, but not too powerful and the sauce is very flavoursome”, he said. I also couldn’t help but notice the enormous homemade prawn cracker that rested on top – a rather special touch to the dish I thought.
I would have liked to obtain a review mid-steak from Gary and Ross, but there was finite time between it arriving and disappearing down their oesophagus, though based on the smiles on their faces I’d say it would have been a glowing report.
We each finished our two-course affair with a dessert. I had picked something less sweet in a classic ‘cheese board’. Served with three cheeses – each individually delicious for their own unique flavours – an array of biscuits, a handful of grapes (fruit and cheese always a winner for me) and tomato chutney. Now that’s how you end a meal properly – or so I thought…
Vicky was the last among us to receive her dessert (and you know what they say about saving the best). Sat in front of her was their “Dark Chocolate and Amaretto Cheesecake” it even sounds delicious. The team watched eyes glued to Vicky’s spoon as she slid it through the layers of mousse, picking up the biscuit base with it. She took the first bite, by this point the team staring had gotten weird and she turned us away, but I kept one eye open as she engulfed the spoon. We’ll never really know what happened that day, but I’m pretty sure Vicky had an outer body cheesecake experience. Needless to say that the combination of rich chocolate, cheese and booze was a huge winner.
We packed our bags and rolled ourselves back to the office, positive comments and smiles all around. I recommend paying the Cottonwood a visit your next lunch break, ASAP.
Meet Head Chef; “Edward Lopes”
Having grown up with his grandmother, who is a true Italian with a huge passion for food, it was only natural that kind of influence would rub off.
In his late teens Lopes’ family opened a restaurant where he could the skills that he had learnt from his grandmother into practice. Lopes came to England in 2004 and started to working at the Wessex Hotel as a kitchen porter. Within a few years he had worked his way up to Junior Sous Chef and has since worked in various different 3 and 4 star hotels around Bournemouth, building an enviable reputation for seriously good food.
By Charlotte Williams
t. 01202 405010
a. East Overcliff Drive, Bournemouth, BH1 3AP