2022 brings a new start and new ownership for the stunning ironstone pub in the heart of one of Rutland's most popular villages, Lyddington. This spring, The Marquess of Exeter has been under new ownership of Michelin-trained chef, Krishnapal Negi since the spring.
Krishna is an award-winning chef who specialises in Indian cuisine and The Marquess restaurant has a new fancy name to match, 'Krishna's Modern Indian'.
I've visited The Marquess many, many times over the years and when I was kindly invited to try out the new menu, I was so excited to experience the newness and it did not disappoint.
When we arrived, we parked in the car park (which always has ample parking) before entering via the front door. On first impressions, it's clear the pub has had a little TLC since the new owner's arrival and feels fresh, clean and inviting and feels more like a 'restaurant' than the traditional pub it was before.
I must admit, I did miss seeing the cosy sofa area in the main bar which I love in the winter months around the fire. But the team assured me that they expect that space to resume as the cosy spot in the autumn/winter months, but for spring/summer thought to use the area an additional restaurant space as a cool alternative for the warmer months of the year.
The restaurant was thriving with couples, family and friends enjoying a Friday evening out and the smell of Indian spices filled the restaurant, it could even be smelt from the car park and it was so inviting! It built up the excitement for the menu.
The menu features two sections, the first page is full of your favourite pub classics with something for everyone, however, we were keen to try Krishna's specialities, so we turned over to the page we were looking for... 'Indian Favourites'.
We were spoilt for choice with starters, mains and sides galore but the only thing missing was a vegetarian main, however, the restaurant staff were very helpful and creating a vegetable main dish was 'no problem' and they were extremely accommodating.
We ordered a starter each and... 'Wow!
I'd never heard of a 'mushroom cake' dish before and when it arrived I was puzzled by the appearance but it was one of the most delicious things I've ever tasted! You couldn't actually tell it was mainly mushroom-based but with prominent Indian flavours and I think it was possibly one of the most well-balanced dishes I've ever eaten also, I didn't want to end and with every mouthful, there were pops of pomegranate and fresh coconut met with the warmth and homeliness of the mushroom cake, it was totally divine. When I spoke to one of the team, she said that the 'mushroom cake' has been a huge favourite from the new menu and one customer even said it was her favourite plate of food ever.
Tom ordered the 'Chicken 65', another unusual name that kept you guessing but Tom said it was like a combination of Indian and Chinese, with sticky chicken pieces topped with spring onion and again said the flavours were balanced to perfection.
The starters range from £7-£8 each.
Onto our mains, we definitely over-ordered with excitement to try it all but our table was full of the most delicious selection of Krishna's delights. Including; 'Butter Chicken', 'Baby Corn & Palak Masala', 'Pindi Chole', an off-the-menu vegetable Masala style main and the pièce de résistance 'Truffle flavoured Naan' bread.
We were in our element, both spooning each of the dishes onto our plate and there were definitely lots of 'mmm's to be heard from our table and we both described the naan bread as 'the best we've ever tasted. Truffle and naan is a match made!
The main courses were £16 each and included rice and naan. Side dishes ranged from £4-£6 each.
Dessert time! Despite being full, the staff insisted we didn't miss out on Krishna's desserts - we managed to find some room and it was lovely to finish off a hearty meal with sweet and citrus desserts of 'Lemon Tart' and 'Rhubarb Cheesecake'.
Following our dessert, Krishna came out of the kitchen to introduce himself and his passion for creating something unique for the pub/restaurant honestly beams from him. I wished him all the best and ensured we'd be back for more very soon, as I can't stop thinking about the mushroom cake and truffle naan.
Overall, we were so pleased with our first The Marquess experience of 2022 and it was a refreshing and different change to enjoy unique and modern Indian cuisine in a familiar village pub setting with a new twist! The staff were so attentive, informative and welcoming. We were blown away by the faultless service.
The only visible difference that I personally missed from the 'old' Marquess, was the cosy sofa area in the bar, but the pub itself has a relaxing atmosphere, feels inviting and so welcoming.
The only 'menu' suggestions I would have is... more Indian favourites! I loved the small selection of Krishna's creations but I would love to see that expanded on and I think the foodies of Rutland would adore the boldness of seeing something different with the Indian favourites scaled up and perhaps less of the 'pub favourites'. I think the uniqueness of a modern Indian focus in a rural pub setting would secure The Marquess on the local food lovers map for sure.
My final constructive criticism would be that the wine list (which is currently a temporary launch list) was lacking in choice (the team mentioned it will be tweaked based on customers comment and recommendations in the coming months), but I think it would be amazing to see the wine list bulked out with more wines and perhaps showcasing local beverages. I also think the addition of a little cocktail menu would go perfectly alongside Krishna's modern Indian favourites.
I'm already planning my return to The Marquess of Exeter in Lyddington and can't wait to share my next visit with family and friends as it really is the perfect location for family get-togethers of all sizes as the pub has so much restaurant space to play with and I think my family will adore trying Krishna's modern Indian specials.
I would like to thank Krishna and his team for so kindly inviting me to try out the new menu and I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever been made to feel so welcome, so thank you so much for our amazing evening.
52 Main St, Lyddington, Oakham, LE15 9LT
T: 01572 822477
Please note: This invitation was kindly complimentary but all views and opinions are my own.