The crossroads on the A30 in the middle of fields between Stockbridge and Sutton Scotney seems an odd place for a pub let alone a French restaurant. However, the Clos du Marquis is a restaurant specialising in the food of SW France. We were invited there by some friends a little while ago and the following is my report.
We arrived and the 18th century building is basicaly divided into a lounge and a dining room. The lounge looked pleasant enough with an open fire but since our friends were hungry we went straight into the dining room. The ceilings were rather low but the white walls helped give a feeling of space.
There was a winter a la carte menu which was pretty close to what they have on their website at the time of writing. I love tuna staks but almost every place I have ever eaten them in the UK frys them at too low a temperature and for too long. The result is tough and not particularly tasty. In trips to California I love the way that they blacken tuna steaks searing spiced steaks at a great heat and leaving the middle raw. I thought that the Medaillon de thon rosé, piperade et ventrêche was worth a try as the French generally treat tuna well. The tuna steak lived up to the rosé description nicely; it was more done than I ideally like but obviously fried at a high termperature but taken out when the middle was just cooked pink. It was served with piperade a pleasant combination of tomato, pepper and onion and ventrêche a thin slice of grilled ham. The dish was very good indeed and the two small tuna steaks plus the ham were surprisingly filling. My friends and Mrs O went for St Jacques sautées à la citronelle which was four pan-fried scallps with a lemon grass sauce. They all loved the dish but felt that £11+ for four scallops was pricey.
For the main course, we all tried different things. I went for Filet de chevreuil au chocolat which was an excellently prepared venison fillet - really seared outside and a good medium pink inside - with a chocolate sauce. I have seen how authentic Mexican restaurants (as opposed to Texmex) have used chocolate in meat sauces when visiting Texas. I was not aware this was done in France but it worked very well indeed. One of our party tried the Joue de porc de Bayonne braisée à l’orange et à la vanille a braised pork cheek. This was very tender and very tasy - I tried a mouthful - and if I go there again I would not hesitate to try it. Another tried the rabbit and was very happy with it. Mrs O tried the sea bass which was another big success. We were a little disappointed with the seasonal vegetables that came with the meal. This was not a question of quality - there were lovely parsnip chips, bits of roast beetroot and french beans - but just that we would have happily eaten much more than we were given.
By the dessert course I had hit a wall and could not eat more. Two friends though ordered the crème brulée done three ways. One was vanilla, the second grand marnier and the third coffee. Mrs O went for cheese and was impressed by the variety offered on the cheese trolley.
Overall we were happy with the experience. Did not write down the wines we tried so cannot report that.