We spent one night in an hotel near Birmingham -- the Nuthurst Grange, at Hockley Heath -- http://www.nuthurst-grange.co.uk/. This served two purposes for us: firstly it put us pretty close to Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre (NEC) which is hosting a massive Food and Drink exhibition (about which I will probably post separately), so that we could get there early. Secondly, the hotel has a very well-respected restaurant, and we wanted to treat ourselves to a special meal. In respect of the latter the objective was certainly fully met. Our dinner that night turned into a very memorable occasion - quite possibly one of our best meals ever. This is what we had:-
Canapes (Served in the bar, whilst having a drink and deciding what to eat).
A selection of very special breads, served Melba Toast style, with a dip of whipped garlic butter with a tiny sprinkle of shaved truffle on top. [Because they are so strong truffles can easily overpower a dish, can't they? These didn't.]
"Amuse Bouche" pre-starter (Complimentary)
Lightly smoked Salmon, with a hint of Pernod was it?; Miniature Crab-cake, served on a bed of tiny oriental vegetable sprouts, enoki mushrooms and radish. I refused this, because I don't eat any fish or seafood, but Jane says it was wonderful (especially the crab-cake..."one of the best mouthfuls of food I have ever had".)
Without being asked, the waiter then brought me instead a shot-glassful of celeriac soup with truffle oil , served with a few parsnips crisps - which was exquisite!
Jane had a pressed Guinea Fowl terrine, including leeks and foie gras, with a mustardy mayonnaise.
I had a "breakfast" -- a very clever concoction, mimicking in miniature the Full English Breakfast. A duck's egg cooked sous vide for 63 minutes; bacon; mushrooms (chanterelles); a tiny fried bread crouton; and for me the most skillful bit of the lot: a sort of "croquette" filled with what I can only describe as "Essence of Baked Bean". Much nicer than it sounds!
Jane had a dish involving roast pheasant, with caramelised chestnuts, brussels sprouts, and red carrots, very artistically presented.
I had medallions of roast venison, served in a chocolatey jus, accompanied by red cabbage, puy lentils, baby turnips and salsify (which I had never had before). The texture of the venison was "melt-in-the-mouth tender". Not a potato in sight with either dish!
(Plus Ty-Nant sparkling water)
Jane had pear parfait, poached pear, sliced banana (was it semi-dried?) with pistachio and olive-oil ice cream, all served up on a plate brushed with chocolate.
I had the cheese. This sounds totally unenterprising, but actually it was probably the best dish of the whole meal. They gave me 5 different types of British and French artisan cheeses. No, I don't know what they were, but one of them was a goat's cheese, and one of them was almost certainly Brillat-Savarin, one of my favourite cheeses of all time! These were accompanied by some really nice crackers, including some made with blue corn; some tiny red grapes, a generous portion of Membrillo (quince jelly), and (star of the show) a mound of tiny celeriac sprouts. Cheeseboards are often served with a stick of celery, but I dislike the texture of celery whilst enjoying the taste, so these sprouts were perfect for me, and something I have never seen before.
Coffee in the lounge, served with home-made Petits Fours, and a glass of Armagnac. A nice touch here too: the glasses were warmed for us. Lovely!
All credit to Adam Bateman, Head Chef, and his team, for a fabulous meal which exceeded even our high expectations. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone!
Quite apart from the restaurant, we were pleased with the overall experience in this hotel, and I thoroughly recommend it. The room we had was spacious and comfortable, as well as being wonderfully quiet. The staff were nice too - very courteous and helpful. The location is also very convenient, just a few minutes drive from Junction 4 of the M42. The hotel has extensive and well-kept gardens (including apparently its own kitchen garden, although we didn't see it). As you will have guessed, I took some photos before we left. It was a very cold morning and all the plants were covered in frost.
|Apples set off by a fabulous background of Pampas Grass|
|Ornamental pond (No, the herons are not real)|
|Horse Chestnut (conker) tree|
|The same tree in close-up...|