Dating back to 1711, Royal Ascot is one of Europe’s most famous race meetings and one of the highlights of the British social calendar. Every year, Royal Ascot is attended by HM Queen Elizabeth II and various members of the British Royal Family, arriving each day in a horse-drawn carriage with the Royal procession taking place at the start of each race day and the raising of the Queen’s Royal Standard. Ascot has been synonymous with world-class racing, style and pageantry for over 300 years, and this year, they are offering exceptional fine dining as well.
This year, Ascot is raising the bar with the launch of three new, but distinct, dining experiences – On 5, Lenôtre and The Panoramic. I was invited along to Benares, the Mayfair restaurant of Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar, to try out one of the sample menus which will be launched this June. He will be hosting one of Ascot’s premier restaurants, The Panoramic, and will be combining modern Indian cuisine with his love of British ingredients.
As a starter, I was offered tiny poppadoms with a trio of chutneys followed by the Amuse Bouche – a British onion bhaji. This was light and crisp, its two sauces bursting with flavor and artistically smeared across the plate. Scrumptious.
This was followed by the most succulent piece of sea bass with a ginger and coconut sauce, presented in a small jug to pour around it – just heaven – and the beetroot ketchup was a great hit.
Another main was lamb, which was cooked very pink and slightly on the fatty side. Chickpea Masala and the citrus and watercress garnish were a mildly spicy accompaniment.
The vegetarian dish? Exciting and so tasty. Tandoori Paneer stuffed baby peppers, each with their own zingy sauce, scattered with pomegranate seeds, was a delight to the eye as well as the palate. The East Indian Pudding, delicately served in a glass tumbler, was a delicious, sweet taste of summer. Jelly and raspberries topped with yoghurt and pistachios – just lovely.
This Indian Lunch for Royal Ascot was, I thought, an exciting, well-balanced and refreshing concept, and so beautifully presented. A “Curry Lunch” this was not!
I now can’t wait to see what Ascot Racecourse’s new partnership with world-renowned French culinary institution Lenôtre is like! This will be the first time Lenôtre (well-known in Paris for creating bespoke fine dining experiences for high-end fashion brands such as Givenchy and Louis Vuitton), has been at a major UK sporting event.
Guests at each of the three Lenôtre restaurants at Royal Ascot (Sandringham, Carriages and The Balmoral) will enjoy cuisine courtesy of Lenôtre Executive Chef Guy Krenzer, paired with wines selected by Lenôtre Head Sommelier Olivier Poussier. Both will be flown in from Paris for the Royal Meeting, and produce will be brought in fresh from Parisian markets each morning. The Royal Ascot-inspired menu includes signature Lenôtre dishes such as Le Chocolat – a crunchy chocolate cake with a lemon sorbet.
Ascot’s Commercial Director, Juliet Slot, said that “with the British foodie scene witnessing a revival in classic French cuisine, we’re really excited to bring something unique to our guests during Royal Ascot.”
35,000 guests are expected to enjoy fine dining at Royal Ascot this year, having been attracted by the combination of internationally revered chefs, innovative menus, spectacular restaurants and, of course, the backdrop of the Royal Procession and the world’s finest flat racing. Ascot also unveiled a multi-million pound investment in a new restaurant, On 5, situated within its iconic Grandstand. Tom Kerridge will be heading up a talented team of chefs within this restaurant, serving a menu of British classics with a unique modern twist.
Royal Ascot takes place from Tuesday 17th June – Saturday 21st June. To book or for further information, please call +44 (0)844 346 3000 or visit www.ascot.co.uk.