The drive up to Ponsbourne Park Hotel and Pods is simply breathtaking; particularly on a sunny day. With sweeping views of windy roads, rolling hills and acres of fields all around.. all that was missing was an open top convertible so that I could feel the wind in my hair!
In the distance, you can see the beautiful 19th century manor building; the hotel, as you drive up the country lane. However, it’s only once you arrive that you can truly appreciate the idyllic surroundings.
We’d heard great things about 1864 Ponsbourne Pods and at it was our first time celebrating our anniversary without going abroad, we decided to book a pod for dinner!
We loved that the restaurant offers a unique opportunity for private dining, with fully enclosed pods. There are various pods that seat 6 people, 8 and even 12 seater pods that are currently being built. They all have large windows to allow diners to enjoy the scenic views overlooking the stunning landscaped garden and even come fully equipped with heaters for those colder months.
While this all sounds great, sadly, they have overlooked one pretty major detail – on the handful of days a year that we have a heatwave in the UK, these pods are unbearably warm. Of course it was just Sod’s Law that we’d picked one of those days!
It was 36°C outside when we arrived, and simply setting foot into a pod was intolerable. We just about managed to pose for a couple of photos before having to rush back into the restaurant.. gasping for air-con!
Sadly, there was no way we would have been comfortable sitting in a pod in that heat, never mind eating spicy Indian food in there too! The staff sympathised and were more than happy to seat us in the restaurant instead. They even mentioned that most people had asked to swap from the pod to indoors that week.
It was a shame, but the food, great decor and friendly service more than made up for it. We ordered a ton of starters to share..
Chilli Chips – I adore chips in pretty much any form, but chilli chips take them to a whole new level, and these were absolute perfection. Crispy and flavourful without being too spicy, and they were a bit ketchup-y which is something I really like. If you ask me, ketchup is a must-have ingredient in chilli chips, but I know this is very controversial, so not everyone will agree.
Now I have to be honest and say I’m not the biggest fan of Chilli Paneer. I know, I know it’s virtually impossible to not be a fan if you’re vegetarian. I mean, what else are we all ordering in Indian restaurants!?
Anyway, I digress. I like paneer in small quantities and as Jass and I were sharing everything, we ordered a portion and it was delicious. It wasn’t too heavy, the spice level was just right (medium) and it didn’t make us feel bloated, like paneer often can. It was really, really good!
The Tandoori broccoli was our least favourite. There’s a very fine line between al dente and raw, and this was sadly the latter. The marinade didn’t have any real flavour to it, so it was literally like just eating raw broccoli. The green chutney however, was one of the best I’ve ever had. As oppose to being spicy or too coriander heavy, this was really refreshing; it tasted minty and really fresh. I’d skip the broccoli next time.
Jass also ordered the Ajwaini Fish Tikka which he loved – and I’m pretty sure he’d have had the same green chutney on the side too.
Garlic Naan. Honestly, is anyone even ordering naan that isn’t garlic!? That’s a genuine question. I never even look at other naan offerings.. I’m all about the garlic!
Let me know your naan preference in the comments.
Ponsbourne Pods make for a unique, private setting; ideal for a romantic date night, intimate conversation or special occasion. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that there is a minimum spend of £100 per pod (the 6 seater pods).
There isn’t a minimum spend in the restaurant, and I guess we got lukcy by dining here instead. Spending £100 would have been a stretch even with the feast we ordered. The service was great considering the restaurant became a lot busier as the night went on; the staff were all friendly and attentive.
We went for a walk around the grounds of the hotel after dinner, and it was wonderful. We may not have been able to fly abroad for our 10 year anniversary, but being surrounded by all that lush greenery in 30°C heat late in the evening made it feel like we weren’t even in the UK!
Have you dined in a pod before? If you want a closer look at where we went, check out my vlog below.