In a setting that’s seen the likes of Queen Victoria, King Edward, and more recently, Tiger Woods, there sits a legacy of luxurious simplicity and delight: The Grove Hotel and Spa.
An estate that was once used as a Gardening School, Health Centre, Riding School and a Girl’s Boarding School was skillfully restored in 1996 and strategically repurposed into the country retreat destination you see today. The discerning options for eating, sleeping, relaxing, and playing are the reason the Grove attracts visitors of all types; from local Hertfordshire residents to well-heeled Londoners, corporate clients, and international visitors and VIPs. Just minutes from London and the M25, the Grove is an upscale treat for everyone.
My personal journey with the Grove began months ago, but last week I had the opportunity to partake in an experience I certainly won’t forget: thoroughly enjoying and reviewing the eight-course “Symphony” menu with wine pairing at Colette’s. I’ve certainly had my share of fine dining across the globe, but Colette’s is man’s (and woman’s) answer to delicious food and delicate, precise presentation. From the classical, calming décor and music to the level of service and thoughtful and beautiful creations set before us, each moment of our three-hour tasting journey was filled with both savoring the moment, but tempered with an eagerness for what was next to come.
With three AA Rosette awards and Russell Bateman, the newly crowned Craft Guild of Chefs National Chef of the Year, 2014, at the helm, Colette’s not only prepared and cooked every course beautifully; there was an attention to detail and precision that was uniform throughout all presentation. You could see there was a significant amount of skill, experience, and judgment projected on each plate. I suppose this is what you’d expect from a Head Chef with a CV filled with Michelin star restaurants like Pétrus and Auberge de L’Eridan and colleagues like Marcus Wareing and Gordon Ramsay.
One of the neatest things about Russell and Colette’s is the use of ingredients. They’re not only sustainable, they’re about as local as you can get. Our server was telling us that Russell chooses his evening selection of fruits and vegetables personally from the Grove’s own Walled Garden. I’m not sure I know of any other fine dining experience team that does this, a homespun touch that emphasizes Russell’s commitment to simplicity, freshness, and flavor. As Bateman commented when recently winning his Chef of the Year title, “At Colette’s, our focus is always on deliciousness, creating simple dishes which let the ingredients speak for themselves, whether they are from suppliers, or our own Walled Garden. I applied the same principles to the competition, focusing on flavour, simplicity, precision and restraint – the results speak for themselves.”
I agree and this all certainly came through on each of the Symphony’s three starters, two mains, cheese course, and two desserts. From our knowledgeable, pleasant server greeting us with the first of our welcome canapés, to the third course of Walled Garden Beetroot, Nasturtium, Hazelnut and Goat’s Curd, through the fish courses, and on to my personal fave of the evening, the rump of Wagyu Beef, Black Garlic, Spring Onion, Shitake and Watercress. The Montgomery Cheese, Sourdough and Onion course was another interesting take on a memorable childhood favourite, the simple, but heart-warming cheese-toasty. Of course these dishes were only brilliantly outdone by the two, yes two, dessert courses of Apple Panna Cotta and then a Chocolate/Olive oil combination of paradise. Of course just when we thought we couldn’t take another bite of anything, we were offered additional chocolates accompanied by Espresso, a perfect way to round off an exquisite meal.
Finally, as we chose the wine pairing option of the Symphony menu, it is not without noticing the poignant consideration the sommelier delivered for combining each course with its associated tipple. Now I’m not a big drinker, so the thought of eight (small) glasses of wine, a different pairing with each course, was a bit daunting; but on taste associations alone, it was well worth the experience. Despite leaving a bit leftover in most glasses, there was one pairing that truly made me realise the potential associated with pairing the right wines with the right flavours. Never have I had something that worked so superbly together than having the Apple Panna Cotta & Sorbet and Blackberry Foam dessert course with a very-memorable 2013 Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling from Clare Valley Australia. Full marks for this match alone.
All in all this was a fantastic evening. Although the tasting menus are a commitment when it comes to your purse strings, the experience is worth every penny. A week later and my husband and I are still talking about the food. We’ve also talked about the fact that Colette’s is only a 15-minute drive or cheap taxi from our home in Hertfordshire. Colette’s is of a standard to draw clientele from across Britain, but local residents really must consider this to becoming a standard local culinary haunt. It’s a gem of a place and one that we’ll be visiting in time again, for sure.
For more information on or to book at Colette’s at The Grove Hotel see the website, here: http://www.thegrove.co.uk/food/colettes/
Colette’s at The Grove Hotel
Hertfordshire WD3 4TG
For more fun in Hertfordshire, see our own website, here: http://local.mumsnet.com/hertfordshire
For more fun in Hertfordshire, check our own website: http://local.mumsnet.com/hertfordshire