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Colette’s at The Grove

The Grove Hotel in Watford is a real favourite for both mine and Mr S’s family. It’s in very easy reach of our respective parents’ homes and is often the hotel of choice for a family Sunday lunch or a relaxed dinner. I’ve blogged about The Grove before as Mr S and I attended a wonderful wedding there in summer last year.

Now Mr S and I were making the short trip to Watford for a night’s stay and to sample the five course tasting menu at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, Colette’s. Last time we’d stayed in the West Wing, which boasts rooms that are sleek and minimalistic, this time we were in the Mansion house which has fabulous contemporary features.

 

Such as this super cool perspex four-poster bed.

A stunningly modern light fitting.

And a super glam dressing table.
And a perspex desk to go with the funky bed.

 

 

 

And there was a large bathroom….

 

With luxurious Espa toiletries.

One my favourite aspects of The Grove are the super-stylish and elegant public rooms.

From the beautiful sweeping foyer…

 

To the more intimate lounges where we stopped for an aperitif before dinner.

 

 

We then headed into Colette’s with excited anticipation of our meal to come!

Colette’s is the perfect model of fine dining with crisp white table clothes in a small and intimate dining room that means high standards of service.

 

Russell Bateman has been head chef at Colette’s for five years and in 2014 he was crowned National Chef of the year by the Craft Guild of Chefs. The panel of judges that voted for him included more than 40 top British chefs such Clare Smyth, Jason Atherton and Marcus Wareing. I was excited, with five courses and matching wines, I knew we would have a meal that would sing to us. Actually at Colette’s you can choose between five or eight courses, known as the Sonnet or the Symphony. There is a also an entirely vegetarian menu.

Our first amuse was a creme fraiche tart which had a zesty hint of lemon running through it. The micro herbs that topped the tart were freshly picked from the hotel’s own walled garden which houses a bounty of fresh ingredients.
Two clever amuses came next, a squid ink crisp with cauliflower and a tapioca bite containing pickled carrot.

 

 

The chicken liver mousse surprised me, as I went to cut into it with a fork the outer shell broke, it was actually frozen and was a bit like chicken liver ice cream. It sounds odd but it worked beautifully.

The first wine was a deliciously chocolatey Pinot Noir…

 

 

…accompanied by some fabulous fresh bread with the choice of oil and butter.

Our starter was a tartare of Wagyu beef served with sourdough and watercress and our waitress, Bernice, who had a huge smile on her face throughout the meal, topped it with a generous shaving of winter truffle.

 

The delicious lightness of the meat contrasted beautifully with the earthy truffle. The quality of both the fine ingredients was highly evident.

Mr S loved the wine particularly and got his nose right in there for a sniff.

Our cod was beautifully cooked and perfectly seasoned. A phrase which sounds quite cliche but, I actually kept repeating to Mr S how fantastic the seasoning was, it really was that good! I loved the accompanying Cornish Crab scrapes and with the creamy potato, it was a beautiful blend of textures. The wine was an Argentinian Chardonnay that cut through the meatiness of the fish perfectly.

Now, I wasn’t expecting to like the duck as it was paired with Yorkshire rhubarb and Gingerbread, which sounded a little sickly but actually the pairing worked incredibly well and certainly wasn’t overly sweet and it was balanced out by the bitter chicory.

The wine was from the Rhone Valley and it had hints of liquorice and went perfectly with the rhubarb.
Our cheese course was Tunworth which had a sweet and nutty flavour enhanced by a drizzle of honey. And the pairing with Louis Roderer Champagne wasn’t bad either!
We cleansed our palates with a lychee jelly and satsuma granite.

 

Mr S and I were rather confused by the dessert when it arrived. I was very satisfied by our four courses but I was expecting something a little bigger and when I cut into what I thought was sponge, it was actually hard.
‘Well, that was a little disappointing…’

 

But the waiter pointed out our error and there was actually a whole world of deliciousness inside the pot. Moro blood oranges with white chocolate and cardamom, was far more exciting than the cake biscuit on top and it had the texture of a panna cotta. As I don’t like dessert wine, the sommelier very kindly replaced it was my favourite, sauvignon blanc!

 

 

The generous serving of petite fours included camomile honeycomb in dark chocolate (my favourite and a bit like a crunchie bar!), grapefruit pepper madeleines, fennel fudge and ginger white chocolate. All of which were very interesting and exciting combinations. I was very happy, however, that it was one of those times when I could just roll up stairs to bed and fall asleep after such a satisfying meal.

The next morning, breakfast is served buffet-style in the Glasshouse restaurant which has every single breakfast option possible including a cold counter of museli, fruit and yogurt, a hot buffet which is replenished regularly and a continental island with pastries, cereals and bread. I was excited to see a sushi counter, and Mr S was excited to have four different types of sausage!

One of my favourite things about The Grove are the gorgeously manicured grounds…near by the hotel there are plenty of areas to sit out for tea or a crisp glass of wine and admire the beautiful artwork that surrounds the manor house, otherwise a stroll among the fabulous parkland is perfect for a summer’s day. But sadly it was freezing cold and raining so I couldn’t show you the ground at their best.

Here’s a photo from last time I was there and please check out my first post about The Grove to see more of the beautiful grounds.
My parents lived very close by so Dr and Susan SilverSpoon popped by to have lunch with us. We made it a hat trick by having lunch in The Grove’s third restaurant, The Stables, which has a relaxed, family friendly vibe.
Actually we were fortunate to all be able to have our favourite dishes:
Smoked salmon, guess who for?

 

Salt beef hash for Dr SilverSpoon

 

Cream of Cauliflower soup for Susie Spoon

 

A prawn cocktail for Mr S, yes the dishes may have been a little retro but it was great comfort food on a cold day.
Both my mum and I had a delicious trout dish served with gnocchi and garlic puree.
Mr S and my dad shared a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings.

 

 

Now last time we visited The Stables and it was dessert time, my dad asked what flavour ice creams did they have. He was rather put out by the fact that the only served the standard vanilla, strawberry and chocolate….
‘Where’s the rum and raisin, or the pistachio? Or the Bailey’s ice cream’ He complained! Ummmm.. dad I think the ice-cream is really meant for the children? This time when the answer was again vanilla, strawberry and chocolate we all nervously bristled but he let it go and ordered this rather attractive looking Pecan Pie instead….

 

….and we all left the restaurant, a rather happy set of Spoons!

The Gourmet Getaway package is £495 and includes one night in a mansion room, five-course dinner with wine pairing at Colette’s and breakfast in the Glasshouse or served in the room. Lunch at The Stables is not included 

Colette’s at The Grove Hotel
Chandler’s Cross
Hertsfordshire
WD3 4TG

Our Gourmet Getaway Package was complimentary