Not too long ago I discovered James Day and his midlands foodie website Eat The Midlands. Along with my prize for Ludlow Spring Fair tickets I also got a 3 month memebership of Gourmet Life, a scheme set up by James to support the region’s local producers by offering a discount card for restaurants that must source at least 20% of their A La Carte menu from producers within the region.
I think the scheme is bound to appeal to all foodies in the region as it offers not only 20% off your food bill at over 100 dining venues across the region, but discounts at farm shops and deli’s, monthly invites to gourmet events and lots more. For me as a diner, it is important to know where the food has come from, so by going to Gourmet Life restaurants it enables me to choose venues which support the local producers and of course I’ll never say no to a discount (it enables me to eat out more often!)
So with Gourmet Life card in hand, I chose the newly opened Granary Grill at Weston Park. The park is known to many as home to one half of the V Festival, and for us locals the venue for the best Bonfire night around. I have only ever been to the park for these events but it is open to the public during the summer months as a tourist attraction where you can visit the Stately Home and it’s gardens.
Over the past year Weston Park began a restoration programme for the the Granary building which dates back to 1767, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the regional development agency Advantage West Midlands. Last year they opened an art gallery and a farm shop, which has an in-house butcher and promotes local and seasonal food from both local producers and tenant farmers, On May 1st they added to this with the Granary Grill Restuarant.
I only called to book my table the day before and although they said they were busy, they could offer a table for four at 8.30pm, which I thought was good considering it was for a Friday. We arrived a little early and I have to say it is an impressive setting for a restaurant. Upon arrival we were escorted out to the courtyard for drinks and to peruse the menu. The menu is based upon their “ethos of using the finest local produce where possible, simply cooked”. There is a decent selection of starters to choose from, and the mains is split between a few select dishes from the kitchen and an impressive Grill menu featuring Steak from 3 different sources : Staffordshire/Shropshire, British or Buccleuch Estate Scottish Beef.
I didn’t take long to make my choices, as I had been dreaming about steak all day and although a few of the starters appealed I’m always eager to support local producers and especially a fellow tweeter like Sarah from Brock Hall Farm Goats Cheese. After drinks on the patio, the first little hiccup with service happened as it seemed we had been forgotten about. At 9pm we were more than ready to order and starting to feel a little hungry so we ventured inside to see if our table was ready and they replied with “of course, has no-one been to show you through?”.Er no, that’s why we had started to become the main course for the midges outside!!
So we were shown to our table which was situated on the upper part of the split level restaurant. The restaurant has a rustic feel due to the exposed brick work but it is very clean and elegant, just as you would expect from such a venue. There was also a lovely atmosphere and the staff were very friendly and polite.
Complimentary bread is served whilst you wait, warm and, I think, homemade (apologies if not!) and in our basket there was poppy seed, granary and wholemeal and something that always pleases me, (as I love fresh bread!) plenty of it too!
My starter of Brockhall farm Goat’s cheese & Chargrilled Vegetables, with oven dried tomatoes, beetroot relish and pine nuts was lovely. The Goat’s cheese was just as I remembered it, creamy and delicate and the tomatoes, pine nuts and pesto complimented it beautifully. If I were going to be picky I would say the beetroot relish lacked a little flavour and of the vegetables, the mushrooms were too much of a squidgy consistency for my palate.
|Brockhall Farm Goats Cheese & Char Grilled Veg|
Despite my criticism it wasn’t long before the plate was clean. At £7.25 it is quite extravagant for a starter, but you certainly get your money’s worth as the portion is very generous, almost a little too generous as I was feeling a little full and wondering if I would be able to finish my main? (must remember not to gorge on fresh bread!! ). Of the other starters ordered I tasted a little of the grilled Marinated Tiger Prawns which were in a lime and chili dressing and certainly full of flavour.
I had ordered a medium rare 8oz Shropshire/Staffordshire sirloin for my main, with a Bearnaise sauce and we had been kindly advised that a side order of vegetables was enough for two. A further two more steaks were ordered together with the Butterfly Chicken Breast with gremolata from the Grill menu. However, when the dishes arrived there was one missing. It appears the second mistake by waiting staff was forgetting my Mum’s main course! This had only been realised once we had been served so we was advised there would be a 5-10 minute delay, which did slightly spoil the meal (especially when Mum is the slowest eater I know!).
The steak was served simply with a tomato, mushroom and onion ring and chips in a pot on the side. The steak itself was full of flavour, if slightly overcooked, and all three of us with steaks had opted for local beef and commented on the good flavour. The side vegetables were plentiful and cooked to perfection. The Bearnaise was slightly too thick for my liking but it had a good hint of tarragon, and the chips were possibly the best I’ve ever had; cooked to perfection and with their skins on so full of flavour.
My mum’s main appeared about 15 minutes after, with fresh side orders, and we were informed that this would not be charged on the bill, which was a nice touch, along with the sincere apologies from the waiting staff (she really did look gutted she had made the mistake!). The chicken was cooked perfectly and the Mushroom Cream sauce was a tasty accompaniment.
Sadly, it had become quite late by now due to the earlier hiccups so we skipped desserts and opted for coffees. The only suggestion I would make is to serve a sweet with the coffee, especially for those who have not indulged in a pudding.
Also, missing out on desserts is just an excuse for me to go back, as despite the slight issues with service I was extremely satisfied with the food and in my mind you should never judge a restaurant on just one visit. This is especially true when you take into account that it was only their 3rd Friday since opening, so I feel sure these were just teething problems.
Last thing on the menu for the evening was the bill and with the Gourmet Life card you are presented with a bill for food with a 20% reduction and a separate drinks receipt. For the 2 course meal plus coffee for four of us, the Gourmet Life card gave us a discount of £18, so when you consider the cost of joining the scheme is currently on offer for £24.90 after one more meal, it has more than paid for itself. Sounds too good to be true …….? It isn’t so check it out here as I’ll be doing at the end of my 3 month trial.