As – to use a vogue phrase – a circuit breaker from the daily domestic routine, I made a reservation sometime ago for lunch yesterday at Gravetye Manor near East Grinstead.
I had only heard good things of a hotel which was once the home of Victorian gardener and writer William Robinson and now a top notch hotel with a Michelin star restaurant.
As with many places in Sussex the car drive to it was one of exceptional beauty.
The leaves had not fallen and the autumn was golden.
Passing through glades of such trees only quickened my anticipation for the treat that was to follow.
A flunkey stood outside the hotel and greeted guests personally with “welcome to Gravetye”.
I had arrived one hour before the reservation which gave me time to walk the grounds.
There was first a more formal garden in the italinate style then following the path out of it I came across the meadows leading to a mere.
The russet autumnal foliage on the trees and bushes was glorious
Lunch is in a glass-walled conservatory overlooking the gardens.
It’s a set three course menu for £60 though, in the extravagantly indulgent mood I was in, I ordered the lobster supplement.
The first course was a fresh garden salad sourced from ingredients grown in their very own garden.
The lobster with a shellfish bisque poured over it was divine.
For main course I chose duck and for desert a vanilla mousse with apple sorbet.
The portions were not huge so I felt satisfied rather than sated.
For accompanying wines I had glass of the local white Bacchus and Haut Medoc.
These were not cheap.
The Italian waitress was friendly and helpful but never intrusive in the way some Michelin star staff are with an excessive explanation of the food.
I was the only person eating on my own but I was entirely happy in my world and thoughts.
The final cost was £145 – a third of this were the wines by the glass and an Amontillado beforehand. I did not begrudge one penny of this.
It was a most memorable meal and experience.