WHERE modern meets traditional and relaxation is key, is the mantra of the Crooklands Hotel, and having eaten there on Sunday night I have to say I fully agree with that motto.

The Crooklands was a perfect mixture of being relaxed while maintaining a classy edge when my partner and I decided to eat out after a day braving the elements.

The staff were extremely friendly and accommodating, and made us feel immediately at home as we sat down with a beer.

We ordered two lovely-sounding starters – a crown gala melon with fresh strawberries and a champagne sorbet (£6.65) and a smoked duck salad with damson chutney and crusty onion bread (£6.95).

I’m not usually a fruit fan, but the melon was wonderfully refreshing, and the blend of strawberries and champagne sorbet was a real treat.

The duck was also beautiful, but the star of that dish was the damson chutney, which was a revelation and a real cocktail of flavours.

Already impressed, we went for two dishes which fully showed the variety the Crooklands Hotel offers.

With a vast menu, and meals varying from a venison casserole braised in red wine, on a bed of garlic and chive mashed potato (£14.95) to a Bok Choy wild mushroom and cashew nut stir fry with noodles and crusty bread (£11.95), you wonder if they are trying to cater to too many people by offering too much choice. But those worries went straight out of the window when the food arrived.

The mash was wonderfully creamy and the venison was cooked to perfection, with the ‘jus’ providing a wonderful sauce for the fresh vegetables.

The stir fry also went down very well, and after a glass of red wine, we felt the very definition of what a Sunday evening should be - relaxed.

This place isn’t one for the faint-hearted when it comes to price, but I’m a firm believer that you get what you pay for – and the food was of such a high standard that I genuinely didn’t have a problem in paying up.

* The total cost for two starters and two mains, excluding drinks, was £40.50.