Team DR were out en-masse last week when we descended on the wonderful Great Fosters hotel to try out their newly launched restaurant, The Estate Grill. The changes to the entrance of the restaurant were an immediate hit – the addition of a bar! We relaxed into Nyetimber bubbles while persuing the new menu and what a treat!
The Estate Grill is taking its job very seriously and Chef Simon Bolsover has installed in his kitchen a new, shiny and roaringly fierce Josper Gril. The name Josper (pronounced ‘Yosper’) seems to have become synonymous with great steaks. Originating from Spain, these Grills are, in layman’s terms, the hottest indoor charcoal barbecue available. The secret seems to lie in its ‘front door’ which allows none of the natural flavour or moisture to escape. Their popularity is growing and diners are actively searching our restaurants who have them but at a price of around £18,000 they are still a relatively rare Chef’s toy.
With such an outlay you would be forgiven for thinking that menu prices would therefore be reflective of a business trying to recoup its costs but it’s anything but. Jugs of tap water were available on the table and the amazing array of delicious home-made breads were all complimentary. General Manager, Richard Young, told us he wants the Grill to be transparent in its charges and for diners to feel they can visit frequently without feeling they are being ‘stealth-charged’ for extras.
The smell of the grill permeated the bar and the restaurant and we were all teased with that charcoal smell that most of us had not experienced since the last days of summer some eight months ago.
Starters involved some theatre at the table as Social Media Manager Claire chose the steak tartar which was expertly seasoned as we watched. Several of the girls had the Lobster and Salt Water Prawn at the recommendation of a member and were not disappointed. Membership Team Member and DR resident model, Amber, called it ‘crisp, zesty and zingy!’. The winning starter however was the Risotto – Foraged Wild Mushroom, Parmesan Lemon and Creme Fraiche was so expertly seasoned and had such an amazing creamy texture that we all decided we could eat it forever.
At this point I must mention the wine and our lovely wine waitress Amanda. Chosen for our starters was a South African Sauvignon Blanc from Fairview which went down well with the Cloudy Bay fans. Our main course red was an intriguing Australian Shiraz ‘Parker Favourite Son’ which Amanda called fresh and slightly menthol – and she was absolutely right. The favor had tinges of Eucalyptus which apparently comes from the fresh winds that are present at the high altitude the vines are grown at – it worked perfectly with grilled red meat.
The grill came into its own for the main course, Membership team member Toni declared her Rib-Eye Steak fabulous and she particularly liked the tomato and onions accompanying.
Dawn ordered Sea Bass and Restaurant Manager Thomas, took pity on her confusion as to how to best start it and took the head and tail off for her. She described it as beautiful, moist and cooked to perfection – and again she waxed lyrical about the amazing mashed potato accompanying.
Sari had the burger which she found slightly underdone to her taste but she had asked for medium and suggests that those that don’t like their meat too pink should ask for medium/well. Sales Manager Paula and Claire went all out on the Roast Cote de Bouef and ordered sides of Roasted Field Mushrooms with Garlic and Thyme and and Buttered Spinach with Nutmeg. The beef was declared an absolute triumph and was impressively served on a wooden platter – deliciously dark and melty on the outside and tender and pink on the inside. The Triple Cooked Chips were served in a cute tiny saucepan which had us all cooing – and were a generous portion. Amber had the Crab Salad and found it ‘ fresh, zingy and crisp’.
Now Team DR never turn down a challenge and decided it was only fair that we try every single pudding for you so we could report on it. So here goes… Sari’s Cherry tea panacotta was bitter and creamy with pieces of gold floating in it and she wanted to take it home to show her daughter! Dawns Chilled Vanilla Rice Pudding was as jealously guarded as her mash potato. Claire’s Banana Macaroon with Salted Caramel and Popcorn was whipped away from her after just one spoonful and arrived back after travelling round the table leaving just one bite left. Everyone tried the Tart for Two which looked at first glance as though it might sink us all – but was so amazingly light it actually dissolved as soon as it touched your tongue. Amber had the Limoncello parfait which she called (are you noticing a theme with her descriptions here?) ‘zingy, lemony and zesty’!
The restaurant is also doubling up as an exhibition space and the art on show provided by Jeremy Hougton is an incredibly vibrant colourful series called ‘The Flamingo and The Phoenix’. He calls this collection ‘optimistic, energetic and hopeful – qualities that make you smile’. It worked well for the DR team as paintings were called such titles as ‘Girls Night Out’, ‘Spill the Beans’ and ‘Fashionably Late’ which of course provoked us to pick a painting each based on appropriateness of title…
The Estate Grill is open all day, every day from 12.30pm until 9.30pm Sunday to Thursday and 10pm on Friday and Saturday. Design Restaurant Members dine complimentary all meal periods when joined by one full paying guest apart from Saturday night and Sunday lunch (minimum two courses each).
Great Fosters also has its own VIP Members Club – more details here.