All meals during our two-night stay at Sketchley Grange would be accompanied by dinner in the restaurant. The restaurant is located just behind the actual bar. A menu stands in the doorway and a friendly member of staff is on hand to escort you to your table. Booking is definitely recommended for this restaurant given that events such as weddings are popular, especially around the weekends.
Initial impressions are positive. A spacious area with a modern feel, tables spaced apart for large groups reducing the fear of claustrophobia. A young waiting staff look after the dining room, all well presented and going about their jobs professionally.
Browsing the menu, there’s a slightly strange pricing system. Three courses will set you back £22.95 ($30.52 US), two for £18.95 ($25.20 US) and rather bizzarely £15.95 ($21.21 US) for one course alone. That said, three courses for £22.95 is decent value in anyones book – even more so with the crowd pleasing menu choices.
We kicked things off with a couple of Sol beers (£4.10 ($5.45 US) each) and some tap water, free of charge. Bread was then served with a choice of wholemeal, seeded or white rolls – all of which were warm, always a plus.
Starters came along in speedy fashion. We began with Chicken Liver Pate garnished with Melba Toast, Rocket Leaves and Red Onion Jam along with a Greek Salad. The flavours of the pate were decent, but there’s a reason for that – it was bought in. The garnishes were all of good in flavour making for a tasty plate all in all.
The salad was an attractive arrangement of tomatoes, olives, feta and red onion. A superb dressing also encased the fresh salad – a good choice. As the restaurant filled up so did our expectations for the main courses: Supreme of Chicken with Oyster Mushrooms, Tarragon, Spring Greens and Gratin Potatoes and Piri Piri Chicken Burger with Chips and Piri Piri Mayonnaise.
The chicken looked superb. A perfectly cut breast with the wing bone attached, but something was amiss. A table near ours had eaten the same dish and complained about certain advertised elements missing. My dish arrived minus the spring greens and oyster mushroom but plus tender stem broccoli and carrot puree. It would have been good for the service to have informed me prior to ordering but fortune was on their side, I happen to like broccoli and carrot puree.
I also happen to like this dish. The sauce tasted decent, the vegetables were nice and the presentation was smart. The only downside was the slightly dry chicken, still edible but borderline. The burger, by contrast, was incredibly dry. Thin escalopes of chicken need barely any time on the grill, too long and they end up drying out, sadly this one had surrendered its moisture. A shame as the Piri-Piri mayo was really good.
A quick word on the best part of this place – the service. This band of youngsters are well on their way to the top of the hospitality industry with attitudes like this. Ollie looked after us and was friendly, professional and interacted well with both us and the other diners. Every member of the wait staff that we came across deserves immense credit.
Time for pud. Chocolate Brownie and Sticky Toffee Pudding, seriously, who doesn’t like that? An indulgent slice of brownie accompanied by a ball of vanilla ice cream, blueberries and a slice of strawberry tasted rich, gooey and moreish. The sticky toffee pudding consisted of a light sponge, toffee sauce and a ball of vanilla ice cream topped with that all important strawberry.
The sponge was nice and light, the vanilla ice cream was a little devoid of vanilla flavour – no seeds present and suspiciously like bought-in ice cream, identical to the ice cream in the dish across the table. All in all, not bad.
Lets talk value. Three courses for £22.95 in a four-star hotel isn’t a bad deal. Flavour-wise the dishes delivered, no question, we thoroughly enjoyed all of them. Improvements certainly lie with the kitchen. A fresher approach such as making the terrine from scratch or even investing in a sous-vide system for the chicken would change so much.
The flavours are certainly there, it’s just small tweaks to bring a restaurant from good to great. The staff are a huge credit to this place and really make for a pleasureable experience. If the kitchen can raise their game, there’s huge potential for this restaurant to really succeed.
Opening Times: 1900-2115 (Monday to Friday)