Autumn is upon us and that means it is time for new menus at Leaf at The Castle Hotel Windsor. Tuck into mouth-watering dishes busting with flavour and colour and hearty dishes made with fresh, seasonal produce. To celebrate the launch of the new menus, we interviewed Executive Head Chef, Suraj Lokhande, to find out his inspiration for the new menus and what his favourite dishes are.
What inspired you to create a new menu at this time?
As the seasons change it is important to have seasonal menus to help with sustainability, using local produce and produce that is at its very best.
Can you describe the theme/ concept behind the new menu?
As we head into November the menu is focused on autumn so it has seasonal dishes which are earthy along with comfort food while still keeping in-line with the Leaf concept of offering protein-based healthy and fresh food.
Were there specific challenges with the previous menu that you aimed to address with the new one? Any improvements you wanted to make?
When planning a new menu, we always look at feedback from guests, colleagues and TripAdvisor reviews. We also look at what has sold well and which dishes have been popular so we know which to keep on the next menu.
What customer preferences or trends did you take into account when designing the new menu?
I plan menus based on customer feedback, their likes, what is on trend in the market and according to peoples’ taste buds.
Can you highlight any signature dishes on the new menu that you are particularly excited about?
I made a conscious effort to ensure the menus feature healthy dishes too. Take for example our signature superfood salad, it is available with a choice of healthy protein including grilled chicken breast, spiced tofu or seared salmon. Also, our seared Scottish salmon with wild mushroom, spinach and green pea fricassee is a very healthy dish.
How did you go about sourcing ingredients for the new menu and did that influence your recipe choices?
We are passionate about minimising our impact on the planet and sourcing local produce wherever possible. Our farm to fork philosophy not only minimises our carbon footprint and reduces the miles that food and drink has to travel to our hotel, but it also delivers a much better food and drink experience for our guests. All our ingredients come from the UK and as the menu is seasonal most of it uses local produce. For example we use English sourced beef and lamb and fish that is in season so it is from the UK as well. We also use Beechwood farm eggs from Reading and soon we will be introducing Crop to Kitchen from Maidenhead as our vegetable supplier.
Are there any dietary considerations that influenced your menu design?
We offer a wide choice of dishes for common allergies including gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, and vegan friendly. Our menus have been designed to fulfil all kind of dietary needs and we have many elements that can be added or taken off dishes as needed.
What culinary techniques or cooking styles did you experiment with in the new menu?
We have an international menu in place with British favourites on the menu. We use good cooking techniques, but at the same time we do not play with ingredients too much so that we keep their freshness. We have a very talented team and all our pastries are made in house, including our legendary afternoon tea and the bread for breakfast is made fresh at the hotel too.
What have been the most popular dishes so far?
The new menus have been getting great feedback from the guests already. If I had to pick the most popular dishes, I would say the Game Scotch egg, seared scallops and tempura calamari are the most popular starters. For main courses, the healthy seared Scottish salmon, Chef’s butter special butter chicken and sharing Chateaubriand stand out as the dishes that have been ordered the most.
Tempted to come dine with us and sample the tantalising new menus? Click here to view our menus and book your table at Leaf at The Castle Hotel Windsor.