Review by Collette
John Burton Race has been at the helm of the Grosvenor Hotel’s restaurant for around ten months now and just announced that he he will be re-launching the establishment under the new title ‘John Burton-Race – Restaurant with Rooms‘ in 2018. Having heard fabulous things about what he’s been bringing to the kitchen, we just had to head down to Torquay and try out his food for ourselves..
It was with a sense of intrigue that we took our seats in the hotel’s restaurant. We were well aware that John Burton Race once held two Michelin Stars and so we were rather looking forward to our dining experience. The restaurant manager Stefanie talked us through the menu choices and with little deliberation we opted for the Chefs Tasting Menu, complete with paired wines. Stefanie’s knowledge really came to the forefront when she explained the provenance of each wine and why they drank well with each course.
To start with we were brought some tasty breads followed by an amuse-bouche of foie gras. This was melt-in-the-mouth delicious and accompanied by delightful soft and crisp textures of clementine.
We were presented with a plate of thin ravioli packed full of fragrant crab and scallop topped with caviar, crisp tarragon & herb purée. This was finished with a shellfish bisque that was so lovely we used the remainder of our bread to mop up our plates (discreetly of course…)
This was a stunning dish. Foie gras marinated in tawny port with pineapple gel, pineapple crisp and a pecan crumb. All of the flavours complimented each other beautifully and smooth, creamy textures were enhanced by wonderful pops of pineapple and citrus. I loved the thin pineapple crisp and the caramelised pecan was a delightful surprise.
Up next was a roasted Cornish turbot served with a mild curry sauce, bok choi, seaweed and lemon puree. For me, this was the stand out dish of the evening. I love Thai curries and I certainly noticed an East Asian influence in this dish. Every mouthful brought a different flavour and texture to your palate. Zingy ginger, lemon and earthy coriander each featured highly and cut through the buttery sauce. The whole plate ended with a trip to the beach in the form of a fragrant piece of fresh seaweed – delicious!
For his main, my husband stuck to the Tasting Menu and enjoyed Beef Fillet accompanied by cep purée, jerusalem artichoke, foie gras (I think Burton Race is a fan) truffle and a red wine sauce. The beef fillet was soft, full of flavour and apparently very tasty.
For my main, I strayed from the Tasting Menu and opted for the roasted breast and confit leg of squad pigeon, which came with puy lentils, herb purée and golden raisins. I don’t often eat pigeon but I really enjoyed this dish. The whole plate was beautifully balanced and the tender meat was complemented by the sweet notes of the raisins.
Selection of Cheeses
Our selection of cheeses consisted of Tate de Moine, Ossau Iraty, Fourme d’ Ambert, Sharphams Rustic and Crottignol de Chevre. I thought it was a good selection overall and my favourite had to be the Tete de Moine (Monks Head) which is manufactured in Switzerland and was first invented more than eight centuries ago by monks of Bellelay Abbey.
To finish off our evening meal we enjoyed Espresso & Chocolate Cannelloni & Iced Coffee Sorbet with Yoghurt Foam. If you’re a fan of strong coffee and chocolate then this is the dessert for you. I must admit to liking my coffee on the weaker side nowadays (I love a good chocolate box coffee cream) so I found the espresso cannelloni a tad too strong. However, the sorbet was delicious and the fresh yoghurt foam helped cut through the richness of the dessert. I really enjoyed the choice of Sherry that was paired with this final course: Pedro Ximenez ‘Tirana; Bodegas Hidalgo, Jerez, Spain. It was quite jammy with notes of ripe fig on the palate .
During our stay, you could tell that the hotel is undergoing refurbishment. While it was spotlessly clean and the staff were all incredibly friendly, parts of the hotel were quite old-fashioned in its styling and will definitely benefit from the transition to John Burton Race: Restaurant and Rooms. The hotel is only a stone’s throw away from Torquay’s seafront and amenities, so there’s plenty to do right on its doorstep. In time I have no doubt John Burton Race’s restaurant will gain an enviable foodie reputation in the local area and I can confidently say that this was some of the best food we ate in 2017.