THE Chester Grosvenor has held a coveted Michelin star for 23 consecutive years and I was intrigued to know what made it so special.
The independent hotel, part of the Duke of Westminster’s estate, is a tourist attraction in its own right, drawing admirers from Japan and America to marvel at its English splendour.
I enlisted the help of my boyfriend Russ to sample celebrated chef Simon Radley’s six-course tasting menu and wine pairings.
We settled in the plush Arkle Bar for pre-dinner champagne where Taittinger is the house choice.
Quirky canapés gave us a flavour of the humour and innovative twist the executive chef injects into his creations.
I was pleasantly surprised to bite from toasting fork, a fluffy pink marshmallow
dusted with icing sugar, to find it was in fact a plump pillow of smoked salmon bathed in citrus foam.
The autumn fire side theme was continued with hot roasted chestnuts crumpled inside a paper bag and melt in the middle mushroom mouthfuls posed as chocolate truffles.
Our senses excited, we were seated in the Simon Radley restaurant, an elegant gold and cream dining room of decadent décor but with an air of relaxed refinement.
Smart waiters worked seamlessly to perfect every detail of our experience and were friendly and knowledgeable in answering our questions about the dishes.
The resident sommelier expertly guided us through the wines chosen to
complement each dish, from the cellar which boasts more than 10,000 bottles from all over the world.
Each course took our tastebuds and imaginations on a journey through autumn in perfectly proportioned, ingeniously executed flavour sensations.
A highlight for me was the rabbit, glazed chestnuts, caramelised cep mushrooms and liver toastie.
It looked like a forest, with earthy colours, varying textures and height and shape that came from a leg of rabbit and a triangle of toastie sticking up from the plate.
A waiter explained it was a composition of rabbit made of choice cuts including leg, liver and kidney. The difference in taste and texture between each was fascinating.
Russ’ favourite was sweetbread, cock crab and veal pasta with shaved Romanesco.
Neither of us had tried sweetbread before and were delighted by the spongy, silky feel and mild but distinctive flavour. The partnering of veal and crab seemed bold but the flavours worked together well.
After dessert, named Autumn Gold, a crunchy walk through maple glazed pecans and café au lait, a huge cheese trolley was wheeled over by its own expert.
He talked us through an extensive selection of soft, hard, blue and goats’ cheeses and gave us the opportunity to try many unusual varieties.
The evening of exquisite cuisine and service surpassed all my expectations.
I now know that it is creativity, humour and attention to detail that makes Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor so worthy of its Michelin star.
Amuse-bouche – Obsiblue prawn, fennel and orange water
Rabbit – Glazed chestnuts, caramelised cep mushrooms and liver toastie
Skate wing – Olive poached, coppice smoked aubergines, clams, dandelion and squid
Sweetbread – Cock crab and veal pasta, shaved Romanesco
Highland grouse – Creamed celeriac and foraged elderberries
Fromage blanc – Baked mission fig with Innes goats’ curd, Barolo and pine nuts
Bircher muesli – Iced yoghurt, granola, Granny Smith
Autumn Gold – Mascarpone sabayon, maple glazed pecans, Bourbon cafe au lait
Six-course tasting menu £90 per person
Paired wines £56