Tuesday 31 July 2012

Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor, Cheshire

It’s been just over a year since I last posted about Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor – in that time, little has changed, so I’ll spare you the usual preamble and get quickly to the foodie bit (if you want to read my previous post with some information about Chester and Simon Radley – see here).

One thing that has changed is the reopening of a fully refurbished, second restaurant and The Grosvenor, called ‘La Brasserie’, which looked very impressive and will undoubtedly be getting a visit from me soon.

One thing that I am glad has not changed is the impressive breadboard by ‘Barry the Baker’ – to my knowledge, the best bread selection of any Michelin starred restaurant in the country* (please let me know of any better, and I am there!)

Service, as always, was excellent albeit very formal; some may think a little stuffy. Dining alone I did notice a lack of atmosphere, partly due to the lack of music (a live pianist or a gentle classical soundtrack would be welcome). At the beginning of the meal when the only other diners were a female couple, I could hear every word of their conversation – if you are looking for a wedding planner, I am now an expert on wedding dresses, flowers, marquee and pavilion hire.

Exhausted from having spent much of the day walking around Chester shopping and enjoying strolls through the parks, by the River Dee and along the medieval walls, I arrived early and ordered a cooling Bundaberg Ginger Beer (my new favourite tipple) and enjoyed a bowl of quality nuts and olives and a quintet of gougères: Salmon & Beetroot, Green Olive, Parmesan Cheese, Chicken Liver & Passion Fruit and Cheese & Truffle.

The days Bread offerings were (reading from right to left in the photo): a white and granary mixed loaf with White Onion & Lancashire Cheese; a soft, white Stoneground Farmhouse; the signature, moist, rich Mashed Potato & Boddingtons Beer Bread; a sweetly sour Sourdough, that had been five days in the making; a hearty Cottage Granary (in the hands of the waiter); a classic French Baguette; a sweet, heavy Red Wine, Fig and Walnut Loaf and, lastly a muesli encrusted Bavarian Rye – I only tasted six of them… all were perfect, so don’t ask me to pick a favourite.

Amuse – a wonderfully cooked Helford oyster, served in a crisp batter with Wirral cress and flowers; a beautiful dish in its conception and execution.

Melon & Prawn – not prawn as the menu suggested, but lobster subtly scented with ginger foam. The three different types of melon were served in tiny fruity, juicy cubes and most impressively as paper-thin sheets, giving the appearance of a raviolo.  

Ibérico – served with decorative pea shoots, the most delicious and perfectly seasoned brawn fritter at atop of a disc of hock jelly and a pea Chantilly with flecks of high quality Spanish Ibérico ham; in terms of out and out flavour, the best dish on the menu.

Mackerel – here, the fatty, charred mackerel loin with the lightly pickled belly was delightfully served on a sweetcorn blini, which had superb synergy with the buttery French Baeri caviar.

Gressingham – the meat main was the only dish of the evening that disappointed; this was definitely for reasons of personal taste rather than execution. The duck itself was roasted well but I found the accompanying pain d’épice, cassis berries, liver and fruit de pâté pastilles overly sweet.

French tart – this dish, a modern take on a classic pissaladière, came out billed as a ‘cheese course’. The pastry was light and flaky, topped with onion confit and a smoky Brezain cheese.

Melba – with golden peach, a creamy vanilla mousse, a plump, fresh raspberry sorbet and a flaked almond topping, this made for a tasty palate cleanser.

Peanut Manjari – ‘manjari’ is a Sanskrit word that means ‘a collection’; this collection of flavours and textures included, sea salt, bananas, burnt orange, crunchy toasted peanuts with snappy chocolate and sparkling gold leaf.

Another top meal by Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor – one thing I would say is for a tasting menu for £90, portions are very small, so fill up on the bread. 

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