The Grove Hotel, Cromer
With its emphasis on fresh local food, the relaxed fine dining experience and its beautiful location and gardens, The Grove Hotel in Cromer has cemented its place in our list of top foodie haunts in Norfolk.
Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Cromer seafront, The Grove Hotel is set in several acres of beautiful grounds beyond a sweeping drive. It’s a family-run business that has grown significantly over the course of the last eighty years to include glamping, holiday cottages, leisure facilities and of course, its award-winning restaurant! There’s only so much that a girl can do in one evening, so I followed my nose and headed straight for the food…
The Grove has none of the stuffiness that you might expect from an upmarket and traditional business. Whilst we waited for our table, we indulged in the local Black Shuck and St Giles G&Ts – it was a long walk from the beach, after all – and relaxed in The Orangery, where the patio doors were thrown open to the gardens beyond. Fairy lights twinkling and ice gently clinking: it doesn’t get more summery than that.
SCOFF & QUAFF
With appetites whetted by our salmon amuse-bouche, we took our seats in the window. The dining room is an attractive panelled room with lots of natural light and candles and the tables were a pleasant distance apart (a pet peeve in many restaurants for my long-elbowed companion). The General Manager, Richard – the grandson of the original owners and a member of the third generation of Gravelings at The Grove – welcomed us personally and explained their principal of using fresh local ingredients wherever possible. So as we were in Cromer, there was one particularly famous local ingredient which we just had to try!
The Crab Eggs Benedict was smothered in hollandaise with a perfect runny yolk and a delicious crispy seaweed garnish, and my compadre’s sizeable chunk of home-smoked salmon was a world away from the skinny slivers of fish that you’d find in some restaurants and it was far tastier too. The Bacchus English white wine from the Humbleyard vineyard was the ideal complement and the presentation was elegant yet unfussy, which was good because it didn’t linger on the plate for long.
For our main courses, it was prime fillet of beef on the opposite side of the table and belly of pork for me. Again, the presentation was simple and clean and there was enough on the plate to satisfy but not enough to overwhelm. Each dish demonstrated a variety of well-balanced balanced flavours and whilst the fillet was pink and tender, my crackling was – well, simply cracking!
Dessert, for me, was the star of the show. I wasn’t sure if the espresso chocolate Eton Mess would work but I gave it a go and I didn’t regret a single mouthful. My dining partner-in-crime chose an equally unusual option: raspberry cheesecake with tonka berry mousse and violet frozen yoghurt, which was light and refreshing after the richness of the main course. We argued over which was the tastiest option for the whole journey home, but it’s safe to say that in reality, both were winners in the flavour stakes.
OUT & ABOUT
Cromer is the perfect base for exploring North Norfolk and the town itself is a nice blend of trendy new bars and coffee shops and the kiss-me-quick traditions of a seaside resort. It won’t be long before the famous Cromer Carnival and there’s always top-quality entertainment to be found at the Cromer Pier Theatre. So if you’re planning a trip to the coast, make sure you check out our Muddy What’s On Guide to get the lowdown on the showdown!
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
With its emphasis on fresh local food, the relaxed dining experience and its beautiful location and gardens, The Grove has cemented its place in my list of top foodie haunts. It’s well worth the drive from Norwich, especially if you twin your visit with a night in one of the cottages or rooms, and whilst it’s clearly a fine-dining destination, it’s not so exclusive as to be uncomfortable or stilted. It was nice to see a separate vegetarian and vegan menu for both starters and main courses and there were allergen options given for several dishes too. Despite its proximity to the seaside, there wasn’t an over-emphasis on fish and as there’s a children’s menu, a family could happily dine out here and know that there was something for everyone. I’ll definitely be back.
Good for: Couples, intimate dining, those who like interesting local produce.
Not for: Big parties or for those looking for a modern, funky atmosphere.
The Damage: There’s a set menu price of two courses for £24.95 and three courses for £32.95, although some dishes will incur a supplement. A medium glass of wine is around the £5 and bottles range from £19.50 right up to a Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay at £105 a pop. That’s all bases covered, then….
Top Tip: This is definitely one to book in advance, especially during the peak summer season. If you’re a fan of Lobster, make sure to pre-order at least 24 hours in advance: it looked sensational and you know it’s going to be fresh, local and sustainable too.
Address: The Grove, 95 Overstrand Road, Cromer NR27 0DJ
Tel: 01263 512412
Words: Hannah Colby