Last summer I had my first visit to Paris House, the renowned fine dining restaurant tucked away in the beautiful Bedfordshire countryside – and two weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited back for a celebratory reception, writes our restaurant reviewer, Nicola Jones.
The owners, Phil Fanning & his wife Claire, were our hosts at the champagne relaunch of their newly refurbished restaurant – pictured above.
In the heart of the Bedfordshire countryside at Woburn Abbey, as the champagne flowed we all enjoyed a selection of stunning canapés including steamed prawn buns with hoi sin mayonnaise, charred mackerel with apple, yuzu and rye and compressed cucumber with moutabel, black garlic and pine nuts.
We were also all invited into the kitchen to experience what happens behind the scenes and to have a go at making our own dessert – a Mandarin trifle with Japanese peach, sake jelly, black bean and chocolate ganache, under the watchful eye of chefs Carl Dumbleton and Ben Hyman. The Restaurant Manager Jarek Krausewicz also ran a wine tasting class and waitress Georgina Lloyd ran a very popular cocktail masterclass.
Phil and Claire bought the restaurant in 2013 and, after three successful years they decided it was time to invest in bringing the restaurant up to date. A guest questionnaire at the end of 2016 had revealed that the Paris House experience was very much loved, but the dining room would benefit from some TLC – which I can honestly reveal has now been administered in abundance.
This restaurant is in a beautiful location and now thanks to the refurb it has the décor to match. The house sits in 22 acres of deer park on the Woburn Estate and has been here since the late 1800s. Paris House was first built in the French capital, in 1878, as part of the Paris International Exhibition on the Rue des Nations (Street of Nations). The exhibition was boarded on each side by 28 pavilions representing 28 countries – and this building was constructed to represent the Tudor properties of Cheshire. The 9th Duke of Bedford visited the exhibition, saw the house, fell in love with it and had it dismantled and shipped back to England where it was rebuilt in the grounds of his home, Woburn Abbey.
Over the years, the building had many uses and identities, including staff accommodation, a wartime hospital and of course a restaurant. Phil and Claire, as the current custodians, decided that they would like to reflect the Tudor style of the building by bringing in colours and fabrics that reflects is real warmth and indulgence.
There are so many gorgeous new details that I noticed as I looked around the room: hand-crafted solid wood tables, a variety of colourful and super comfortable new chairs, gorgeous flooring and carpets, attractive new lighting, and an unbelievably beautiful side table made by Phil.
Another key feature is an art wall that showcases a seasonal selection of food related art which is for sale. The artists featured this season are textile designer Annabel Corbett; bespoke furniture designer Jane Crisp & internationally acclaimed turner and sculptor Joey Richardson; with future works coming from Nick Barberton, Claire Malet and Penkridge Ceramics.
As I walked around I also noticed some really interesting framed pictures on the walls featuring images of Paris House when it was part of the original exhibition in France. They have even managed to find and frame the original map of the exhibition – complete with its own compass!
The party was not just about the refurb though, it also celebrated the launch of the new Spring Menus, which include mouthwatering seasonal dishes such as:
• Allium & Morel: a warm onion mousse with stuffed baby morels, a selection of roasted, pickled & raw onions and locally foraged wild garlic
• Lamb & Pea: Crispy Spring lamb’s tongue with avocado, podded peas, seasonal herbs and oregano
• Pork: Pork belly cooked for 12 hours with smoked eel, roasted red peppers, artichokes & heirloom tomatoes;
• Chocolate: Chocolate Fondant, Goats Milk Hazelnut Parfait, Candied Hazelnuts & Chocolate biscuit
• Mandarin trifle: Mandarin custard, sesame seeds, black bean and chocolate ganache, Japanese peaches and sake jelly
These menus are available until 25 June, when they will be replaced with the summer menus. Prices start at just £43 per person for a 6 course lunch. For further information on what other delights await you, have a look at www.parishouse.co.uk/menus.
This was a a show-stopping event and it was great to see all the positive changes that have been made since my last visit. It was hard to imagine how they could make it any more impressive, but they have. Not only is the food still the major talking point and something that you never forget, but now thanks to the new décor the whole experience is a different class. Needless to say, booking is essential so if you are keen to try out the new and truly innovative Spring menus, be sure to make your reservation.
Contact information and opening times
PARIS HOUSE, WOBURN PARK, LONDON ROAD, WOBURN , MK17 9QP
Tel: +44 (0)1525 290692
Lunch: Wednesday* – Saturday 12.00pm – 13.30pm Lunch: Sunday 12.00pm – 14.00pm Dinner: Wednesday* & Thursday 19.00pm – 20.30pm Dinner: Friday & Saturday 19.00pm – 21.00pm (Closed Monday & Tuesday)
*There is limited availability on Wednesdays, so it’s best to call the Reservations Manager on 01525 290692 to enquire.