Conyers at Grinkle Park Hotel
Tel: 01287 640 515 Fax: 01287 641 278
Lunch 12-2.30pm, Dinner 7-9.30pm, Sun Lunch 12.30-5pm
20 rooms from £85.00 pp, mini breaks from £75.00.
Even a long drive in heavy rain couldn’t take away the pleasure of arriving at Grinkle Park Hotel. The hotel- tucked between the North Yorkshire Moors and the East coast north of Whitby - is down a long woodland driveway that opens to reveal the imposing baronial hall. Though only built in 1880 it seems older.
The interior retains many original features, high-embossed ceilings, wood panelling and an impressive staircase complete with stained glass. The sweeping parkland surrounding the hall is immaculately manicured; it is no surprise that Grinkle Park is a favourite venue for weddings.
The hotel has recently undergone substantial renovations and improvements latterly in the kitchen with new head chef David Spencer. David, previously at Swinton Park and Aldwark Manor is renowned for his cooking, so I expected a pleasant lunch.
Yorkshire wine merchants House of Townend provided wine for the lunch and began with a Baron de Beaupre Brut Champagne served with appetisers of Whitby fish and chips. I like tea with my fish and chips but second choice would always be Champagne, a good match.
There is a strong tradition at Conyers – the restaurant of the hotel – for serving local produce from the land, sea and from its 3000 acre shooting estate. Unsurprisingly we began with lobster served with a crab apple tian and watercress dressing. This classic combination of flavours and textures is dependent on the freshness and quality of the ingredients and the lobster from Staithes caught only the previous day, typified this. It was a light, crisply flavoured starter, no fuss or pretension - excellent. A fruity, fresh Chardonnay from Avondale in South Africa made a great accompaniment to the fish and the slight tartness in the apple.
I would have expected no less than venison in these surroundings and David didn’t disappoint. It was packed with flavour and cooked to the precise point of rareness to suit me at least. Served alongside was a stack of slowed cooked hot-pot potatoes, which, whatever they were braised in gave them a deep, concentrated flavour and made them extremely moreish. The whole dish pulled together with the thick sweet Madeira Jus making the Girolles, though tasty, superfluous. The dish would by no means have suffered with out them. Boldness of these flavours demands a sturdy wine and a Gougenheim Malbec from Argentina did just the job with its deep cherry and plums notes.
The fashion for an assiette of dessert lives on despite my protests and came today with Rhubarb in the starring role. My objection (and it is personal as clearly they are popular) is when I have tasted 4 different desserts on one plate they become indiscernible on my palette. David and his team though managed to persuade me this time, each of the tiny trifle, crumble, ice-cream, and Pannacotta held their own, a harmonious quartet.
Coffee and Grinkle fudge to finish made this a first-rate lunch of great surroundings, exemplary service, and competent cooking.
Now only the long drive home, but it was worth it.