When Cafe 15 isn’t open for dinner, wend your way to the bar early and bag the table by the fire for a G&T and the polenta chips.
Best of British, with a unique twist to match your idiosyncratic surroundings: tweeds, heritage cashmere and pussy-bow blouses will go down nicely, jazzed-up with unusual jewellry.
Run by chef Dan Miles (previously of Gainsborough Bath Spa), Cafe 15 is open daily for breakfast and lunch and serves modern, British fare: think ham hock, apple and dandelion salad; mushrooms on toast; and baked Tunworth cheese. Like the rest of the hotel, the restaurant is bursting with curios, collections and contemporary art – shelves lining the walls are stacked with blown-glass trinkets and multi-coloured, antique chemists’ bottles. Don’t forget to stop by for afternoon tea in the sitting room, where the chicken sandwiches with apricot crumble and crispy skin are the stuff of local legend, and the list of brews – all served in silver tea pots – is as long as a Georgian petticoat (try the Gunpowder Green and Organic Jade Sword, if you’re feeling adventurous).
It’s easy to lose an afternoon in Bar 15, a pastel-coloured treasure trove groaning with trinkets: glass tables display vintage jewellry and an accent wall behind the bar is lined in scalloped, leather scales, fashioned to look like exotic fish. The cocktail menu is vast – 52 tipples long printed on a deck of hotel-personalised playing cards, so you can have a game of whist, Austen-style, while you wait. Each drink is a mini performance in itself; served in a test tube, a carved-wood bowl, or a smoking, blown-glass goblet. We’re particularly partial to an Eastern Promises, a herby, lime-infused concoction served in a blue-china faux-urn. If you’re peckish, raid the bar menu: smashed avocado on toast at breakfast gives way to a lunchtime feast of sandwiches; dinner is the star of the show – choose from ravioli with salsa verde, marinated prawns or Italian charcuterie.
Breakfast (7.30am–10.30am), lunch (Wed - Sun, 12pm–3pm), afternoon tea (2pm–6.30pm) and dinner (Fri & Sat, 6pm–9.30pm) are served in Cafe 15 and Bar 15 – also called the Sitting Room (dinner Sun - Thurs, 6.30pm-10.30pm and Fri & Sat, 6.30pm-11pm).
You can have breakfast in your room between 7.30am and 10.30am.