Thursday 18 October 2012

La Brasserie at The Chester Grosvenor

The Michelin starred Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor has for many years been considered one of the North West’s finest restaurants.

Which, is fitting as the hotel itself is also one of the region’s most prestigious hotels – it certainly has one of the greatest histories and pedigrees; thanks, in no small part, due to its ownership by The Duke of Westminster. 

Earlier this year, the brasserie at the Grosvenor underwent a major refit and menu overhaul by Simon Radley and reopened as ‘La Brasserie’.

What they say: La Brasserie has comfortable, black leather sofas and chairs, and the sleek granite tabletops help to create a relaxed, Parisian style ambience. One of the restaurant's hallmarks is a hand-painted glass skylight, which adds to the feeling of French sophistication.

What I ate:

Du Pain – a selection of artisan breads from the Chester Grosvenor bakery, made with locally produced Walk Mill flour. Barry the Baker’s breads are always one of the high points of meals at Simon Radley – these rolls too were excellent and beautifully served in wooden bowls on a bed of ‘straw’.

Crispy pig trotter – this was a phenomenally good dish. The sharpness of the paper-thin mouneyrac apple carpaccio with the sweet, seared scallops forged a fabulous synergy with the umami rich unctuousness of the pig’s trotter croquette – magnifique!

Following the excellent starter, the main was going to have to be something special… fortunately, it was: Rose veal escalope – an overall rich dish that still had light touches. The veal itself was absolutely sublime – excellent quality and cooked to tender perfection.

The salty Crudo ham; sweet, sticky baked figs; bitter rocket salad; earthy artichokes and fresh, clean tasting buffalo mozzarella all helped to make the dish something very special – impeccable brasserie cooking.

Hand cut chips – up there with the best chips I’ve eaten.

The dessert selection, including a small but well-appointed cheese board was wonderful. Unable to choose, I took the easy option by selecting the tasting plate of mini desserts and sweet bites with coffee - Café Gourmand.

To go with my choice of a Double Espresso, the selection included: a Chocolate & Raspberry Délice; a triangle of Turkish Delight; a Cassis Pâte de Fruit; a Pistachio & Walnut Macaron and a perfectly sharp Lemon Tart with Blueberries.

Food high points: I enjoyed the whole meal so much it’s actually very difficult to choose one high point but I think if I ‘had’ to eat one dish again right now, it would be the scallops and pig trotter.

Food low points: I find it hard to fault this meal… probably the best hotel brassierie I have ever visited. Perhaps be more generous with the chips?

Décor / ambience: like a proper Parisian brasserie only with more space and friendlier staff (not that all Parisian brasserie staff are unfriendly, of course). The central skylight is the real ‘pièce de résistance’ but it is the quality of everything the marble tables to the from the napkin linen and cruet sets that really shines through.

Service: service too was faultless.

Verdict (Would I return?): most definitely. Simon Radley remains the place to go for a special celebration by La Brasserie is the perfect place to treat yourself… why wait for a special occasion? 

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