When you’re invited to a hotel in Stansted you’d be forgiven for turning your nose up. Airports and rumbling overhead jets are not synonymous with a restful weekend. As it turns out the lovely historic village of Stansted Mountfitchet is quaint, pretty and home to the charming Linden House hotel.
Linden House is a restaurant with rooms, which have been boutiquely decked out in the converted Georgian properties. There are only nine rooms at Linden House some over the restaurant in the main house and others through the courtyard at the back. We were staying in a superior deluxe room above the restaurant.
On entering our room we couldn’t help but let out a little ‘wow’. Sensitively bringing modern décor into the traditional setting the room was open plan with an original brick chimney bisecting the room – at one end a plush chesterfield-style bed and at the other a copper rolltop bath. The pewter grey walls were accented by old leather steamer trunks and antique furniture.
The village is small and right on the edge of rolling green hills and woodlands ripe for a good stomp. We took a circuitous route around the environs, and it struck us that with only a short train ride out of Liverpool Street we felt firmly entrenched in the heart of the countryside.
The downstairs restaurant at Lindon House has been equally as sensitively restored and for the evening low lighting and a convivial atmosphere greeted us. We started with a surprise amuse bouche of pea and chervil croquettes, followed by a light starter of beetroot cured salmon with pickled winter vegetables. Like an artist’s palette of colourful swirls and wheels of purple stripy beetroot nestled among rose red salmon, micro herbs and daubs of crème fraiche and beetroot purée.
For main courses a fillet of venison with braised red cabbage and red currant sauce was rich and warming with sweetness from the cabbage and a tart edge emanating from a light redcurrant sauce. There was also a venison Pithivier a kind of pie filled with a vension meatball and an intense venison stock, which to my mind pushed it slightly the wrong side of gamey. We also tried 12-hour confit pork belly, which actually arrived as pork three ways – the belly was silky and perfectly tender, there was a thick pork fillet and some shredded braised pork cheek accompanied by a slab of celeriac gratin, all were well executed. Both dishes had a real innovation brought to classic ideas.
Desserts were a goey brownie with raspberry jelly and white chocolate mousse, and a really delightful lemon drizzle cake with blood orange gel, and poppy seed and bergamot ice cream and dots of mascarpone icing. The components of the latter made for a dessert that leaves you grinning long after the plates are cleared away.
Retiring upstairs so easily after a heavy meal was hugely pleasing and waking up to the smell of breakfast climbing the stairs from the Lindon House restaurant below was even more welcome. We followed our noses to be greeted by the Sunday papers an array of little pastries and a stack of fluffy and crisp blueberry pancakes from the menu.
Well fed, superbly rested and lungs full of country air we travelled back to Liverpool Street feeling altogether lighter of mind.
Who knew Stansted could be so restorative?
For more information visit lindenhousestansted.co.uk