A former MasterChef quarter finalist has brought her culinary expertise to a five star resort in Cornwall - and we were lucky enough to be invited for a review. 

Ondine Hartgroves has taken on Hart of the Valley, a restaurant based at The Valley resort on Bissoe Road, Carnon Downs.

Following her appearance on MasterChef in 2011 where she made the quarter-finals, Ondine began a career working in kitchens including the Live and Let Live in Harpole and has won numerous awards including Chef of The Year and Spice Chef of the Year for consecutive years.

Falmouth Packet: Ondine (Centre R) with members of staff at The Hart of the Valley in Carnon Downs Ondine (Centre R) with members of staff at The Hart of the Valley in Carnon Downs (Image: NQ)

Now that Ondine has taken over the restaurant alongside her daughter and husband Paul, the Packet was invited to join them for a review of their Moroccan Feast Night consisting of four courses.


My husband and I ordered the mezze to start (a ‘tapas’ style plate) which included olives, hummus, baba ganoush, sigara borek, salad and Turkish bread.  

Personally, I have never really been one for hummus, so I was slightly hesitant to try it, but after dipping my Turking bread into it, I was immediately a fan. It was flavoured with a subtle spice and it wasn't too heavy for me.

Falmouth Packet: Our meal began with this delcious mezzeOur meal began with this delcious mezze (Image: NQ)

The olives and salad were also really nice.

However, the winner had to be the sigara borek, which at first glance looked like a vegetable spring roll you would usually get alongside a Chinese - how wrong was I. 

The appetizer was delicious: the flaky dough was easy to bite, and the cheesy filling inside was just incredible.

In my husband's words, it was “bleddy lovely”.


Now this is where it got slightly interesting.

The main dishes included Chemoula Chicken (Moroccan national dish), 'Vegan Seven' (vegetable tagine), and a beef tagine (slow-cooked).

We both wanted the meat dishes, but we couldn’t decide which one we wanted, so our lovely waitress of the evening Hayley suggested that we order both to try.

Falmouth Packet: Chemoula Chicken served with preserved lemons, saffron, spices on a bed of jewelled cous cous Chemoula Chicken served with preserved lemons, saffron, spices on a bed of jewelled cous cous (Image: NQ)

My husband tried the chicken first, and I went for the beef which was served with Moroccan spice, apricots and date on jewelled couscous.

I enjoyed the taste of the Moroccan spices and the apricots and dates – a combination I wouldn’t think of using together in a dish.  

After the beef dish, I moved on to the Chemoula Chicken (served with preserved lemons, saffron and spices, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes on jewelled couscous).

Falmouth Packet: The slow cooked beef tagine The slow cooked beef tagine (Image: NQ)

Again, cous cous isn’t something I would usually go for in a dish, however, mixed with the pomegranate seeds it was absolutely divine.

I am really fussy when it comes to chicken and not massively a fan – so for me, the beef dish was the winner. My husband on the other hand preferred the chicken to the beef.

Palate Cleanser:

Well in all my 34 years of life,  I have never experienced a ‘palate cleanser’ whilst out for dinner!

But, I have to say the pomegranate and mint sorbet was absolutely delightful, and welcome after the mixes of spices in the main course. 

My husband also really enjoyed the sorbet so much that he wanted more – and that was his choice for the dessert.


A choice of three dishes on the menu for dessert  - and I knew which one I wanted to order straight away.

I went for the Persian Love Cake, whilst my husband decided to go for his second round of sorbet. This time is was mango flavoured, served with a brandy snap (the other option being a cheeseboard).

Falmouth Packet: Persian Love Cake served with almonds and ice cream Persian Love Cake served with almonds and ice cream (Image: NQ)

The cake was absolutely phenomenal, unbelievably light and delicious! The flavour of rosewater and ice cream went perfectly together, and If I had the choice to order one to take home, I would have.

Falmouth Packet: Mango sorbet with brandy snap Mango sorbet with brandy snap (Image: NQ)

Hubby said his sorbet was ‘really good’ and let me have a small piece of his brandy snap, which was tasty.


We had a really nice time at the Hart of the Valley on Saturday, and I personally enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere in the restaurant.

The staff were so friendly and welcoming, and helpful in discussing the menu with us.

To find out more or to see what’s on offer or to see more of the menu visit https://www.thevalleycornwall.co.uk/facilities/restaurant/