The city of Leicester has been in the headlines quite a lot in recent years, first for the discovery of the remains of 15th Century English King Richard III under a car park in 2013 and then for its football team’s unlikely Premier League triumph in 2016.
Then, of course there’s BBC presenter Gary Lineker, who oce played for the Foxes and, of course, his favouriteWalker’s Crisps. But one of the main reasons my wife and I visited the UK’s 10th largest city recently was to enjoy a weekend break in a place we’d not visited before and to partake of some fine cuisine.
We stayed in the independently-owned boutique Belmont Hotel, which has recently been awarded two highly prestigious awards – a four-star AA rating for the Georgian hotel itself and two AA Rosette awards for the quality of its food.
The awards come on the back of its £40,000 investment made over the last five years, including the refurbishment of the elegant Windows on New Walk restaurant and Jamie’s Bar, renovation of the Orchard Business Centre and a new décor for most of its bedrooms.
David Ferguson directs the restaurant and bistro, with both recognised by the AA for their innovative, quality dishes as well as great service and attention to detail, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
We stayed for two nights and our suite was gorgeous, with luxurious queen-size bed, sofa, armchairs and writing table, as well as a good-sized bathroom. It was more a home from home than a hotel room.
We ate on our first evening at the Windows on New Walk restaurant and it certainly was a fine dining experience. For starters I went for a light and tasty poached salmon with cucumber and horseradish. Josi tucked into pigeon with wild mushrooms, caramelised yeast and baby gem lettuce.
For her main course, my wife – a real fish lover – really enjoyed her market fish with heritage potatoes, lovage, mussels and courgettes. I went for the succulent sirloin of beef, which came with slow-cooked cabbage, cauliflower and truffle potato skins. Everything was sort of familiar British fayre but with some surprising twists to make the menu really exciting.
The quality continued with the desserts, where I enjoyed the exquisite white chocolate aero with raspberry and Josi had the mouth-watering coconut parfait with pineapple, pineapple sorbet and lime.
All three courses were delicious, and not bank-breakers either, with one course £21.50, two- £25.50 and three- £29.50. There’s a fine choice of reasonably priced wines also.
Also on the menu that evening for starters were goat’s curd or mackerel, additional mains were lamb and also mushroom tart, and we sadly had to turn our backs on the lavender cream and the strawberries and cream desserts.
On other evenings you can choose from starters such as cured duck, rhubarb and ginger bread, or scallops. Mains bring fresh local rump of lamb or guinea fowl, with sweets including pineapple sorbet and lime, or poached pear.
The full English breakfast we enjoyed on both mornings was also excellent and, on our only full day in the city, set us up nicely for a day of shopping and exploring. The city centre boats a range of excellent shops and there’s also lots of friendly pubs, cafes and restaurants.
• The Belmont Hotel first opened its doors in the 1930s and now offers meeting and event spaces for up to 175 people, theatre-style, and 74 individually designed ultra-comfortable bedrooms that have been recently refurbished; combining the hotel’s Georgian charm with modern elegance and creature comforts. The hotel enjoys on-site car parking, and is ideally located in the heart of the city centre: www.belmonthotel.co.uk
• If you fancy a stay at The Belmont, classic room prices start from £122.50. Quote the Lincolnshire Free Press and receive a room upgrade and a glass of prosecco. Valid until 28/02/18 and subject to availability.