Well regarded amongst its golfing members, the Benguela Brasserie at Mannings Heath Golf & Wine Estate is well worth a visit by non-members too. The surroundings are sophisticated: think dark wood, sheepskin-draped chairs and an open fire. The windows look out onto the beautiful terrace and further onto the lush golfing green.
The South African-inspired fine dining restaurant is headed by chef Nick McAllister, who is renowned for pushing the boundaries of ingredients. Nick and his team have a passion for creating new menus, utilising the best locally sourced produce. We visited on wine and steak night and enjoyed a tender fillet steak with a classic peppercorn sauce, and a flavoursome rib-eye with a rich brandy sauce. The succulent cuts of beef offered real depth and complexity, and were perfectly paired with wines from Benguela Cove.
Before tucking into the mains, we enjoyed delectable starters. The tempura prawns were beautifully crisp, but the star of the day was the delicate hand-dived scallops, interwoven with crispy pancetta and set alongside tantalising puréed cauliflower. To follow, I sampled the chocolate fondant, which had a deep, silky intensity, flattered with notes of cherry, and served with a flavoursome scoop of cherry sorbet – mouth-wateringly divine. My companion chose the lemon panna cotta which boasted the perfect texture, with a slight wobble and a hint of thyme, further enhanced by caramelised nuts and lemon sauce freckled with basil.
Guests looking for a daytime treat can enjoy afternoon tea with open sandwiches made with homemade bread, freshly baked scones and a selection of deliciously dainty handmade desserts, served with unlimited Novus tea or roasted coffee. If you want to go a step further, why not book an afternoon wine tasting? You can opt for a standard wine tasting experience, the wine and cheese pairing, or the wine and fine chocolate pairing. For those planning a private party, you can also book the 17th-century clubhouse, be it for an intimate supper with friends or a lavish five-course event for up to 100 guests. Whatever you decide, you’re in for a treat – Benguela Brasserie is a secret that deserves to be shared.