My husband does spoil me, I'm a lucky girl. In a sudden bout of guilt for spending all last weekend playing computer games, he decided to book at night at the Grosvenor, Chester, with a Spa treatment each and dinner at La Brasserie. I suggested we eat at 9pm with a view to having Afternoon Tea at 2ish... except he forgot to book afternoon tea.... no matter, but we foolishly thought we'd have a light lunch and save ourselves for dinner.... only to cave in at 3pm and treat ourselves to a burger.
(A side review here - I had a P&P burger at the Pitcher and Piano, topped with mushrooms and blue cheese. Fabulous burger, not much cheese, small mushrooms that kept dropping out; a portobello would have been better. I'm not actually a burger girl, but sometimes only a burger will do and this one hit the spot; homemade 8oz burger, well seasoned, cooked quickly, pink in the middle. Delish. Highly recommend when you want something quick and only something meaty will do. Minds out of the gutter, please).
So, 9pm came around and we made our way down to the opulent, if slightly snooty, dining room. Diners are a mix of Cheshire-set couples and those who just want good food in a pleasant setting. There was a distinct lack of laughter at the tables that The Boy and I made up for!!
La Brasserie's faux French interior does nothing for me; I like places that don't try to be something they're not. It did do faux French very well though and reminded me of a darling little bistro I ate at once when hiding from my brother in law in Paris - a whole other story there. The granite tables, simply set with elegant glass wear and sterling silver cutlery did create a not-too-fussy setting that could easily have slid into tacky. The waitress also took my request to move to a different table with a view (high maintenance - moi?) well and happily let us switch without complaint or hesitation
On the way in we spotted the delightful cheeseboard, full of local cheeses, found by 'The Cheese Detective' Peter Papri (a job title I'm desperate for), so we chose our meals knowing this delight was awaiting.
On to the menu; confused. Mixing Spanish, French, Italian and modern British, it struggled to find it's identity and I struggle to make my choice; It's an eclectic mix in menu and in dishes; nothing simple and, being a Brasserie, I'd got myself into a simple food state of mind, so French Onion Soup it was for me, and Tellagio Ravioli for him. The soup was good, more-ish, but not so special I couldn't make it home; lots of onions, not much broth but topped with a gorgeous cheesy crouton that I can never do myself without burning the edged. The ravioli was pretty special with a great balance of dense and light, with thinly sliced pear and stunning caramelised walnuts.
For the main course, and a simply grilled piece of halibut for him, a braised pork collar for me, served with a saveloy sausage, a piece of pork belly, mash and a mashroom and pancetta friccasee. Had I read the menu properly, I'd have realised that I ordered lots of meat, which I didn't want. I thought I'd ordered something that came with savoy cabbage, not saveloy, my mistake, but if it was served with cabbage, the whole dish would have been lighter and much, much more enjoyable. Meat overload unfortunately - very well executed but a little bland as a result of excess pig!!
My main course was only OK, perhaps a result of bad ordering and having left my glasses in the room! Having said that, I left full and content. The Boy really enjoyed his halibut, but I was in a bit of a sulk that his was nicer than mine so I refused to try it (regrets....).
Overall, confusing setting, confusing menu, excellently executed, fantastic service.
Would I go back? Yes, I'm dying to try that cheeseboard.....