Category Archives: Food

Halloween at Donnington Valley

Halloween At Donnington Valley Hotel

Fast approaching is one of my favorite times of the year Halloween! Not only do I get to see my own kids dressed up and out trick or treating but it is also means pumpkin carving season!
Pumpkin carving is really fun and we get to use the fillings to make some beautiful seasonal dishes. This year at Donnington we have ordered in lots of extra pumpkins for the school holiday week so any mums with kids looking for something to do can come in and carve a pumpkin to take away to scare the neighbours. We are holding our own staff carving competition so expect to see lots of strange carvings about the hotel!
With all of these activities you can expect lots of pumpkin dishes on the market menu and my personal favorite is pumpkin and chilli soup which really helps to warm the winter blues away. We will also be trying roasted pumpkin with ginger as a side dish and for dessert a pumpkin, honey and almond tart served with a winter ice cream.

Lets get carving!

Autumn Food at Donnington Valley Hotel

With autumn now fully upon on us we are looking at sourcing as much as possible locally for our new menus.

We have started this week with some beautiful Hampshire Red Deer supplied by Thatchams Butchers, this venison is very low in fat (good news for the health conscious!) but really full in flavor.

Our new dish on the A La Carte menu is Loin of Hampshire Red Deer with Buttered Hispi Cabbage, Roasted Baby Beetroot, Celeriac and Potato Rosti, Beetroot Puree, Dark Chocolate Jus and Sweet and Sour Walnuts.

This dish is full of texture and taste, the natural sweetness of the beetroot combines beautifully with full gamey taste of the deer. Top this with a Perez Cruz Chaski, Petit Verdot from our wine list; a rich full bodied red from Chile and you have a wonderful autumn meal to keep you warm.

Kelvin Johnson

Head Chef

Book your table in our WinePress restaurant by calling 01635 551199 or book online

We hope to welcome you soon.

National Chocolate Week

National Chocolate Week

National chocolate week starts on Monday 14th October and so to celebrate all things chocolate we have created a chocolate afternoon tea which will be available at the Donnington Valley all week.

Kelvin and the team here at Donnington are all great lovers of chocolate and regular guests of the hotel will no doubt remember and be looking forward to our holiday homage to chocolate; giant Easter bunnies, haunted houses and reindeers to name just a few of the recent displays.

Working with chocolate is not just for us professionals though, there is now a huge range of cooking and eating chocolates available for you to get creative with at home.

My advise is to always try to use the best quality chocolate you can afford. A high-quality chocolate will make a distinctive, crisp, snap when broken and will shatter cleanly. It will also start to melt very quickly when holding it.

You are looking for anything with a high percentage of cocoa ideally, over 70% and it shouldn’t contain anything that you don’t recognize by name. If there is a long list of  ‘e’ numbers you may want to think again.

Chocolate brownies, cakes and cookies are always popular around here but chocolate is a very versatile ingredient. A good quality bitter chocolate with rich tangy tastes can accompany a meat dish beautifully, try a chocolate and cherry sauce on top of your venison steak or add chocolate and chilli to a beef casserole for a fantastic depth of flavour.

For bigger groups wanting to learn more about cooking with chocolate we run chocolate demonstrations here at the hotel so give us a ring if you are interested in learning more.

In the meantime I hope to see you all next week for our special chocolate afternoon tea!
Sally Russell
General Manager.

Seasonal Ingredients – Strawberries


Here at Donnington Valley we are eagerly waiting for this year’s Strawberry crop to ripen from Cobbs Farm, hopefully the sun will shine and it will be ready for the first week of Wimbledon. Due to the nature of the up and down weather this year they are a little behind, but the English strawberry is well worth the wait. The intensity of taste and smell are so much stronger and superior to that of the Dutch and other imported varieties which can often be watery and soft.

At the same time we are looking forward to the gooseberries for our pastry chef to make some classic British desserts to go onto our seasonal weekly market menu. In the meantime we have two weeks maximum left to enjoy this weeks asparagus so we are trying to make the most of it by using it to accompany both meats and fish. Great ways to enjoy it are making soups from trimmings, using on its own with classic with hollandaise or even in salads with Parma ham.

Kelvin Johnson
Head Chef
Donnington Valley Hotel

British Produce in June

British produce in June

June is a great month for British produce. Here at Donnington we have been using some great local veg!

We have been lucky enough to source some tasty asparagus from Cobb’s farm (a local farm shop located between us and Hungerford) which we have been using on our weekly changing market menu.

We have also been using fresh peppery Watercress from Hampshire a fantastic compliment to our steaks.

Our breads are another talking point for our guests. Particularly delicious if we do say so ourselves! We use local bakery Shepherds based at nearby Chievley. They supply us with a white, granary and sundried tomato breads.

Our Smoked Salmon (properly garnished) is another treat for the taste buds. Smoked at Severn and Wye Smokery in Glostershire.

And we are planning on making the most of this seasons strawberries on our weekly changing market menu. Keep an eye out for this when you next visit.

Elizabeth Ward
Operations Manager

Book your table on our website or by calling 01635 551199

How to prepare duck breast for pan frying

This week, our Sous-Chef Mesut Sen from the Donnington Valley Hotel is going to show you how to perfectly prepare a duck breast to cook in the frying pan.

The main tips given are:

  • Cut excess skin slighty off the sides so the fat does not overlap the flesh
  • Cut squares into duck skin in a diagonal manner from both sides to create a crispy surface
  • Cuts into skin can be made in several directions and forms, as they are also done in order to create an aesthetically pleasing piece of art on the place

An Interview with Head Chef Kelvin Johnson

Kelvin has been Head Chef at Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa for over 21 years since the hotel opened. Kelvin produces fantastic classic dishes using local quality produce. Let’s find out more about Kelvin.

• How would you describe your style of cooking?
Classic British with a twist of French

• Did you always dream of becoming a chef?
Yes, my mother was a chef so I started very early with her. I also won a competition at school so this pushed and inspired me.

• Did anyone in particular influence you in your career choice?
My Mum defiantly, food was a very big role at home, fresh ingredients were always key. We always sat down as a family for each meal. My Mum however did over stew vegetables so I always make sure mine are cooked correctly.

• What’s your signature dish?
Any sort of fish, simply cooked with seasonal vegetables

• What do you enjoy cooking at home?
To be honest nothing, I never cook at home. My wife is an excellent cook and I believe that my children should be brought up on her food.

• What’s your pet hate when it comes to food?
It has to be wastage, I can’t stand it. I try to use everything that I can, for example if I cook spaghetti bolognaise and I have made too much, I will make a lasagne as well.

• What’s the best piece of cooking advice you could give our readers?
Keep cooking simple and as fresh as possible, don’t over complicate it otherwise you will lose the natural taste.

• What was your first job and how long were you there?
It was at the 4 star Raven Hotel. This is where I started training as a chef and was there for 4 years.

• What do you do to relax?
Play with Apple products – I love them! I also enjoy watching my children play sport

• What’s your favourite ingredient to use in cooking?
It has to be garlic and ginger. These ingredients bring out the flavour in foods

• What’s your most exotic dish?
It would be my venison served with chocolate sauce

At Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa Kelvin offers an A la carte menu as well as the seasonal Market Menu, catering for vegetarians and all types of dietary requirements. With the lunch menu starting from only £18.00 for two courses why not stop by for a bite!