Checking In | Grace & Savour
We’re all for minimising the distance between the dinner table and bed, especially when there’s a three-hour-plus, fifteen-course tasting menu being served at said dinner table. Thankfully, that’s exactly the set-up at Grace & Savour, the restaurant with rooms at Hampton Manor, just outside Birmingham in the Warwickshire countryside.
A stay at Grace & Savour isn’t just about a meal and a kip though, the experience is designed to fully immerse you into the restaurant. With five rooms attached and the restaurant itself separate from the main Hampton Manor hotel building, it very much feels like its own thing, which really helps to cocoon you in the Grace & Savour world.
For guests staying the night, it’s recommended that you arrive at 3pm so you can join a tour of the kitchen garden. After a two-hour drive from London, we were bang on time and rewarded with an afternoon snack of confit egg, potato & wild garlic and a vermouth & tonic (homemade pine kombucha was the soft option). As well as whetting the appetite for dinner very nicely, the snack break also gave us the chance to admire the space – an open-plan main building with lots of stone, concrete and wood and tactile furnishings in a muted colour palette. Very modern rustic, very Nordic chic.
Once the snacks were gone and bags were whisked away to rooms, it was time for a tour of the restored Victorian walled kitchen Garden. It’s still being developed (the restaurant also has a farm locally) but there was plenty of organic produce coming through, including a healthy-looking crop of rhubarb, with a few chefs darting in and out from the kitchen too. Smoke, another of Hampton Manor’s restaurants, is at the other end of the garden, as is The Bakery where in-house baker Min Go showcases her work. There’s also a cottage off to one side of the garden, which can be booked as accommodation for groups of up to eight.
You get a good few hours between the end of the tour and the start of dinner to relax in your room. They’re arranged around a small courtyard, meaning you can see the chefs prepping in the kitchen from your lounge. We were in The Whittler, named as a nod to the site’s previous use as a timberyard, and the room was a continuation of the style found in the main building, so lots of natural materials, wooden cladding, a carved wooden headboard, a moss green tiled walk-through shower, and products made in collaboration with local apothecary brand Harvest in the bathroom. There’s no television but with the piece de resistance, an enormous concrete bathtub (opposite an enormous bed), there’s no need for a screen. Once we’d dipped into the pail of bath salts and sunk into the tub, the afternoon literally melted away and dinner time rolled around before we knew it.
Grace & Savour is headed up by David Taylor, who was part of the team that helped Maaemo in Oslo win its third Michelin star (aka a seriously good chef), and you can see this influence in his food here. It really is a lovely setting in which to eat, with the garden behind and the open kitchen, with a large counter wrapping around one side, ahead. As you’d expect from a kitchen with its own garden, a lot of effort has been put into the sourcing of ingredients. The produce is 95% organic and regenerative, with David carefully selecting suppliers who share the same sustainable ethos. And it’s treated expertly by the kitchen, with a parade of gorgeous morsels arriving at the table on beautiful, dynamic ceramics.
Genuinely there wasn’t a dud dish amongst the fifteen courses but the real standouts were Jerusalem artichoke with petals of Evita apples and bay served in a crunchy artichoke skin; sweet beetroot on a crisp made from fried sourdough starter; spoon-soft celeriac with onions from the Wirral and a moreish roasted yeast and winter savoury sauce; a fat sweet regeneratively hand-dived scallop sat in a butternut squash, hot wax chilli and kelp oil sauce; a meltingly tender fillet of ex-dairy cow beef with January King cabbage and a rich, glossy black garlic sauce; and a tangy sheep’s yoghurt sorbet sweetened with a foraged bullace syrup and a shard of crispy meringue.
You can do a drinks pairing with the dinner – Grace & Savour sources its wine from small production vineyards and there are also some interesting soft options – but a couple of glasses of Greek Alekmi rosé worked just fine for us. And there’s nothing like a short walk from table to bed, easily clocking in under a minute, to finish off the night.
The following morning breakfast is served in the main Hampton Manor building, which doubles as a good opportunity to have a nosey around the rest of the estate. After such an epic dinner the previous evening we hadn’t expected to be hungry, but a wonderful cinnamon and sugar-laden morning bun baked by Min disappeared swiftly, as did a full-cooked brekkie shortly after. Then again, if you don’t leave an immersive dining experience with a full belly, did it even happen?
Hampton Manor, Shadowbrook Ln, Hampton in Arden, Solihull B92 0EN
By Christina Dean