Winter Wonderland - Eastbourne's Grand Hotel
PUBLISHED: 08:46 08 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:28 20 February 2013
Lulu Larkin spent her last farthing on Sunday lunch for family and friends at the unashamedly luxurious Garden Restaurant in Eastbourne's Grand Hotel – and says it was worth every penny
After a year of feeling the pinch, tightening her belt and making both ends meet, Lulu Larkin decided it was time to push the boat out. She spent her last farthing on Sunday lunch for family and friends at the unashamedly luxurious Garden Restaurant in Eastbournes Grand Hotel and says it was worth every penny
The Grand Hotel, King Edwards Parade, Eastbourne BN21 4EQ
tel: 01323 412345
AND how was 2009 for you? If, like me, youve been scrimping and saving, rumbling in the jumble for something to wear and trying to be creative for the fiftieth time with forgotten cuts from the Waitrose meat counter, then you can afford to indulge yourself this Christmas. So trim your wicks and darn your socks later its time to celebrate in style!
One of lifes special pleasures is Sunday lunch with family and friends and when the venue is the Garden Restaurant at Eastbournes Grand Hotel, its very special indeed. Even as you walk up the steps of this splendid snow palace of a hotel and are greeted by a genial top-hatted, liveried concierge ushering you gently through the revolving door with a tip of his titfer, you know youre in for a treat.
The spacious sea-view lounge opens up to your left and at the far end of the Great Hall, Shelley van Loen and her Palm Court Strings entertain with an accomplished medley of traditional and modern classics. In between, theres a gleaming, mahogany horse-shoe bar running the length of the room with squishy sofas dotted around and waiters and waitresses gliding effortlessly around with trays of drinks and olives like ice-skating penguins.
Our guests Daniels suave and debonair son Oliver, his virtuoso-violinist-and-pretty-with-it girlfriend Frida and the gorgeously-glamorous, gifted editor of Surrey Life, Caroline had arrived ahead of us and were already enjoying a glass of Carr Taylors Sussex sparkling pink rose wine and wolfing down the pistachios.
We hadnt finished mwha-mwha-ing before Oliver McTears, the youngest ever bar manager at the Grand and inventor of the Eastbourne Tennis Grand Slam cocktail, darted over to take our drinks orders mm, yes, please, to the CT sparkly and hand over the menus. There was an excellent la carte choice but the committed carnivores were in unison on Chef Keith Mitchells famed Sunday lunch menu (26 for four courses) of roast sirloin of beef carved to your liking.
Caroline chose the vegetarian gnocchi with sun-blushed tomatoes and Stilton sauce while Ollie homed in on sauted chicken strips with piquant Stroganoff sauce unintentionally holding the hungry hordes up by demanding precise definitions of piquant and Stroganoff. Theres always one, isnt there?
We chose different starters: Parma ham with roquette, asparagus and Parmesan crackling, smoked salmon mousse with cucumber spaghetti, melon with wine-macerated strawberries and fresh cream of tomato soup all given 10 out of 10 by our by our motley crew of judges.
Our main courses arrived under domed silver cloches, which were dramatically raised with a voil! worthy of Delilah. A wonderfully dramatic touch, especially as everyone had someone elses plate. But it added to the gaiety of the occasion and we all played pass the parcel. As did the waiters with the amazing selection of vegetables: roast and mashed potatoes, al dente courgettes, carrots, mange touts and a declared winner in the brassica section: cheese-glazed broccoli to accompany the tender roast beef and toothsome gnocchi and chicken Stroganoff stir-fried to Olivers perfection. Phew!
A cornucopia of fresh fruits and desserts arrived on a trolley like Carmen Mirandas headdress and we dived in. Well, fruit isnt fattening, is it and there arent many calories in cream, are there? And these petits fours are as light as a feather. Do you want the last chocolate truffle, Oliver? Oh go on, Dad, if you insist!
It had been a wonderful, special treat for us all and I hope youll want to discover the Garden or the Grands Mirabelle restaurant for yourself soon. If youre still looking for the ideal present, you neednt look any further merry Christmas!
3 other Deluxe Christmas crackers
Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club, Wych Cross, Nr Forest Row,
East Sussex RH18 5JR, 01342 824988 www.ashdownpark.com
If youre entertaining family at Christmas, why not treat yourself to time out of the kitchen beforehand with their special lunch (37.50)? It includes wild mushroom consomm, local crab, Sussex turkey and leek sausages and traditional plum pudding, marbled chocolate mousse or artisan cheeses to follow. There are also restaurant party nights on 11, 12 and 18 December at just 48. Children welcome for the Winnie the Pooh afternoon teas.
Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa
Climping, West Sussex BN17 5RW
Do you imagine waking up on Christmas Day to presents youve always wanted a champagne and smoked salmon breakfast in a four-poster suite followed by a gentle stroll along Climping beach? Then Bailiffscourt definitely has got the Xmas factor. Enjoy a relaxing swim or luxurious spa massage before award-winning chef Russell Williams traditional Christmas lunch followed by the Queens speech and a game of Monopoly before afternoon tea and Bailiffscourt home-made Christmas cake (well, just a sliver!).
Gravetye Manor Hotel, Restaurant and Country Club
Nr East Grinstead, West Sussex
RH19 4LJ 01342 810567 www.gravetyemanor.co.uk
If the idea of being cosseted in a luxurious country hotel in tranquil surroundings with superbly-cooked food by award-winning chef Mark Raffan appeals, then Gravetye Manor offers the perfect retreat.
A sumptuous 16th century mansion with magnificent gardens designed by William Robinson, its an idyllic place to spend Christmas or New Year. Or any time. How long have you got?