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Dinner at The Terrace on the Hill

My sister and brother-in-law have been staying for the weekend. Since I owed them at least a year’s worth of Christmas and birthday presents, I decided to take them out for dinner to Malvern’s best restaurant. The Terrace on the Hill is a brunch / light-lunch / afternoon-tea-and-cakes place during the week, but on Friday and Saturday evenings it morphs into a high-end dining experience run by a Michelin-starred chef. I’ve had lunch there, and wanted to try out the dinner service – but it’s definitely the sort of experience that needs to be shared. There was no point going on my own.

There is no choice about the food – each week the chef decides on a seven-course tasting menu, and that is what you get. The small print on the menu says that “all dietary requirements are catered for”, but I’m not sure how that works in practice or how much notice you’d have to give. They publish their weekly menu on Facebook each Thursday, and my sister confessed that she’d been “cyber-stalking” them for the past few weeks to see what sort of meal she’d let herself in for! This week’s menu was:

Canap├ęs – very fine cheese straws, tuna tartare, and some sort of cream cheese & fennel concoction;
Borscht with dill creme fraiche – I loathe beetroot, but this was actually surprisingly pleasant;
Ham hock tortellini carbonara – really, really good. We all loved it;
Hake with miso sauce – beautifully cooked fish with oriental flavours of sesame and ginger;
“Coq au vin” – deconstructed, with roast breast of chicken, braised leg, shallot, mushrooms, and a red wine sauce. It was very pleasant, but frankly the most “ordinary” out of the courses;
Elderflower and champagne jelly with strawberry meringues – absolutely gorgeous. We all agreed that this was our favourite course;
Duck egg custard tart, poached pear and pear parfait – very rich. The pear was lovely, but the custard tart defeated me and my sister;
Coffee and Petits fours – mini bakewell tarts, lemon tarts, madeleines, chocolate truffles and tuille biscuits. My brother-in-law managed his share, but this was a step too far for my sister and me. However, the waiting staff were very happy to box up the uneaten treats into a doggy bag (which looked very like a cardboard handbag!) and I brought them home to eat at my leisure.

There was, as you might expect, a comprehensive wine list to accompany the food. At my sister’s suggestion, I’d booked us a taxi there and back so that we could all drink. We decided that we’d fully enter into the spirit of the “tasting menu” by also having the wine package. This was a trio of glasses – a white, a red and a dessert wine – specially chosen by the chef to accompany the menu. It worked out at about half a glass per course on average, which was about right. However, the smallish glass of white wine had to stretch through the soup, starter and fish courses, and the large glass of red wine was only poured just before the chicken arrived, and had to be guzzled over just the one course before it was time for the dessert wine. That didn’t quite work for us. If we were to go again, I think we’d probably just get a bottle of something that we were in control of pouring so that we could pace it better.

Overall, we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The food was delicious, inventive and beautifully presented. I don’t normally eat a huge amount in one go, but was very pleased with how well I managed to pace myself, and did full justice to the first six courses. It was only the custard tart and petits fours that defeated me! It’s just the sort of really good restaurant that Malvern needs and I really hope that it succeeds. Certainly, it was full last night which bodes well.