‘Fine dining without the pretentious rubbish’ - Why you should visit The Grove in Cromer
- Credit: Archant
The Grove hotel in Cromer has been providing guests with high quality accommodation for the past 81 years.
Bought in 1936 by Robert and Hilda Graveling, The Grove had around six acres at the time and the family planned to use the land for farming.
1978 saw the establishment taken over by the next generation of Graveling's, John and Ann, who ran it successfully until 2010 when their children, Richard, Chris, Liz, Hannah and Ruth, took over.
This shift in management saw many other changes made to the business, including the addition of a restaurant, orangery bar and glamping yurts.
Chris Graveling, who predominantly takes charge of admin for the business, said: 'My siblings and I grew up at The Grove and when we were younger we would spend our free time waiting tables.
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'It was all very simple, just bed and breakfast and in the morning we would go round and ask guests what they'd like for a sit down dinner. There were only ever two options, something like chicken or vegetable lasagne. It worked well, but that was in the eighties.
'When our parents retired, my brother took over as general manager but he can't cook, so we decided it was time to hire a chef and that development led to the addition of an entire restaurant.'
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The restaurant has gone on to be awarded two AA rosettes thanks to hard work from chefs such as Charlie Hodson and Mike West who created tempting menus that focus heavily on local produce.
Their current offerings, courtesy of head chef Simon Marsh who has been with the team since March, include Heritage Potato (black truffle poached potato, buttered salsify, Jerusalem artichokes and chargrilled halloumi) as well as a local seafood assiette.
'We're very lucky to have such wonderful produce on our doorstep. All of our meat is collected from local butchers and we also have fresh Cromer Crab and Lobster from the Davies family, who are descendants of Henry Bloggs and have been fishing at Cromer for generations,' said Mr Graveling.
As well as using local suppliers, the hotel also grows a lot of their own fruit and vegetables.
'We've got quite a big fruit and veg patch which my dad still tends to,' says Mr Graveling. 'He's 81 now but we can't keep him away, he won't let anyone else near it.
'There are always little hints from the garden in our meals, right now for example we've got lots of wild garlic growing in its prime, so there are plenty of dishes involving that.'
Other items you'll find on the current menu include Mardler's nettle linguine, made with Grove garden nettles, a selection of Norfolk cheeses such as Mrs Temple's and Jacob's Ladder, a dish comprised of short rib of Norfolk beef, which is slow braised in Black Panther ale and served with stemster mash, asparagus and brassicas rouge.
'We like to try and experiment with our cooking, and Black Panther ale goes down so well that we decided to try putting it in a dish and the result was delicious.
'Our pastry chef, Sue, also likes to get a little experimental with the treats offered with our afternoon teas to see whether we can put a spin on them to create new, exciting puddings.'
Summing up the dining experience at The Grove as a whole, Chris describes it as 'fine dining' but with a twist.
He said: 'The house itself is quite grand. We're not stuffy in anyway, it's a very homely place but at the end of the day it is a country house and we wanted the restaurant to reflect the building. It's listed so it's got to be fine dining, but I like to think of it as fine dining without the pretentious rubbish that can sometimes go along with it.'
As well as afternoon tea and evening meals, The Grove has also recently started serving lunch. This will be offered on a seasonal basis from Spring to Autumn and will feature a reduced version of the A La Carte menu, with a daily chef special.
All of these meals can be accompanied by a range of locally produced drinks from the hotel's orangery bar, which boasts the likes of Black Shuck gin, Norfolk Brewhouse ales and tipples from The English Whisky Company.
Fantastic food aside, what is it that really makes this place stand out from the crowd?
'It's like a haven,' says Chris. 'You drive up towards the building and there's just nothing like it. It's green, peaceful and welcoming.'
If that's not enough of a reason to go and visit The Grove, for lunch, dinner or even a weekend getaway, then I'm not sure what is.
For more information visit thegrovecromer.co.uk