Dining Out: The Petwood Hotel
Keep calm, and carry on enjoying great dining in a traditional setting… just like the Dambusters – who, of course, called The Petwood home – Emma Brealey and the team are making the best of life after lockdown!
Too few of 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, made it back to Scampton on 17th May 1943. Those who did enjoyed a breakfast of bacon and eggs – the least they deserved – before reflecting on their role in the mission. Nearly 80 years on a different flavour of bravery is being dished up for breakfast in dining rooms not least in the spiritual – if not regimental – home of the squadron, Woodhall’s Spa’s Petwood. The hospitality is industry steeling itself to ensure the survival of their industry.
Those in the industry may not be nestling in the bomb sight at the front of a Lancaster, but it’s still a pretty frightening prospect that as the festive season approaches, hotels and restaurants may not enjoy the usual frantic Christmas and New Year period.
Diners as well as restaurants and hotels need to be brave and support the industry, especially as our recent visit to The Petwood in Woodhall Spa came just a day before Boris Johnson’s announcement that social groups of only six people will be permitted in the run up to the festive season… yet more bad news for the entire hospitality industry.
Continued bravery will pay off though, just as it did 80 years ago, and one of the Lincolnshire dining rooms adapting with positivity and pragmatism is the Petwood.
Changes include the move to a single menu to facilitate social distancing in the kitchen despite a fairly substantial number of chefs and kitchen staff, as well as a one-way system throughout the hotel.
The hotel’s hard work implementing changes to render itself and its guests Covid-safe are paying off; the team did an average of 350 covers during each of August’s Eat Out To Help Out days, and they’ve produced no fewer than 2,600 afternoon teas for visitors since reopening.
In short, Managing Director Emma Brealey, General Manager George Kane and Head Chef Philip Long are doing a grand job adjusting to the new normal and maintaining the hotel’s excellent standards. What’s more, the team has been able to use the opportunity that lockdown closure has provided to redecorate and refresh the hotel’s communal areas, working with interior designer Gilly Henson to make the most of the Edwardian hotel’s architecture.
Three years ago, the hotel also reinstated the Harold Peto-era grounds, which has ensured diners have enjoyed dining on a sunny terrace with attractive views over the summer months following reopening.
Emma and the team are also installing new patio heaters on the terrace as Pride goes to press in order to extend the al fresco dining season, inviting diners to bring a blanket and make themselves comfortable as the sun sets over the terrace.
Indoors, the Petwood Suite, Garden Room and Terrace Bar have all enjoyed a thoughtful refurbishment, and plans are underway for refurbishment of the hotel’s 53 bedrooms as part of a rolling programme. Work has been a bit easier to undertake without the need to ensure guests and diners aren’t disturbed by the work.
It is, of course, still possible that by Christmas restrictions on a maximum of six person-strong groups will be lifted. Whilst that may leave very little time to arrange larger gatherings, the hotel has three or four rooms ideal for private dining groups – family gatherings or groups of friends for example.
However you choose to dine at The Petwood this season though you’ll enjoy a super menu which comprises eight starters and 11 main courses with additional salad and sandwich options, as well as six dessert options.
Local produce is used throughout the menu, with meat sourced from butchers like Boston Sausage and Wards of Ruskington. Fish is delivered fresh from Grimsby by Moorcroft and there are plenty of vegetables from the Fens too, via FreshDrop.
The hotel also holds an AA rosette for the quality of its food, and Philip is keen to impart as much education into his protégés as possible, which is not only beneficial to the youngsters working alongside him, but also ensures chefs stick around, so helping to ensure the consistency of The Petwood’s dining too.
Dishes taste as good as they look but always prioritise flavour and satisfaction, making every plate a pleasure.
If you needed any proof that we’ll all emerge from 2020 a bit battered but largely unscathed, The Petwood’s adaptability and stubborn determination to deliver a great experience and great dining provides just that. Dambuster spirit is alive and well here, so pay a visit, keep calm and carry on!
On The Menu…
Ham hock terrine with brioche and piccalilli £6.10.
Smoked duck with pear in red wine £8.25.
Smoked haddock fishcake with chive butter sauce £6.25.
Pork belly and cheek with boulangère potatoes and cabbage £12.95.
Boston sausages with grain mustard mash and thyme & onion jus £10.85.
Chicken breast with sage and butternut squash cake, mange tout, balsamic onions, pancetta £12.85.
Seabass fillet with ginger & soy marinade, avocado salsa, sauté new potatoes £13.
Raspberry vacherin with vanilla whipped cream, raspberries, raspberry jelly and raspberry sorbet £6.10.
Tonka bean pannacotta with popcorn crumble, popcorn bubbles £6.10.
NB: Featured dishes are subject to change.
The Petwood Hotel, Stixwould Rd, Woodhall Spa, LN10 6QG. Call 01526 352411 or visit www.petwood.co.uk.