Restaurant review: The Grand at Folkestone

With its Edwardian grandeur, spectacular setting and a talented new chef at the helm, The Grand is once again truly living up to its name

Restaurant review: The Grand at Folkestone

With its Edwardian grandeur, spectacular setting and a talented new chef at the helm, The Grand is once again truly living up to its name

The Grand, in its spectacular site on the Leas at Folkestone, has upped the ante. With a new general manager, Robert Richardson, owner Michael Stainer has found a young man full of verve and the desire to create true fine dining in this wonderful place. Fresh off the international hotel circuit, Robert is brimming with enthusiasm for the Grand and for his new chef Anthony Walker.

My companion comments, “On a day like this you couldn’t have a better setting.” The sun is shining straight into the south-facing Palm Court and onto the crisp linen of the tables.

The place has the conservatory feel of a palm court, with plants decorating the high windows, while the historic black and white marble floor shows something of its Edwardian grandeur. A young pianist is accompanying our meal with The Goldberg Variations, and moves on to Chopin and Mozart. It is unique.

The Grand is one of the must-see spots of Folkestone. You can even take a two-hour tour on a Monday or a Friday and enjoy a cream tea. The building claims to be the first with steel frame, infilled and with reinforced concrete, by builder Daniel Baker. Even the wall-to wall-carpeting was an innovation, to cover the concrete floors. Downstairs is Keppel’s Bar, where King Edward would visit with his intimate friend, Alice Keppel. You can now elect to eat either in the dining room of the Palm Court, or take your meal in the bar downstairs, which has a more informal atmosphere.

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There is not a huge menu, but this ensures that the food is always fresh. We chose warm goat’s cheese, chicory and walnut salad, and saut�ed chicken livers in a sherry, mushroom and garlic sauce. This was all very satisfactory. The menu includes several other enticing items, like pan-fried sardines, or home-cured gravadlax.

For our main courses we chose home-made bubble and squeak, served with poached egg on a bed of wilted spinach, with a white wine and fresh herb sauce, apparently one of chef’s most popular dishes and much enjoyed by my companion.

I selected the slow roast belly of pork, which was an excellent piece of meat, not too fatty and with very good ‘crackly’ cracking. This came with sweet bacon cabbage, caramelised apple sauce and Dauphinoise potatoes, which were very light and appetising.

For our desserts, we went for the Bavarois, lemon and lime and a home-made mango and passionfruit cheesecake, both very good. I have to add that the coffee, too, was excellent.

The wines are selected by Robert, with the aid of Majestic. Robert aims for quality and it is true that his house wines are more than adequate. We drank a red Marques Calado Tempranillo, which was not too overpowering, and my companion tried an English Chapel Down Flint Dry Sur Lie and was most happy with that. There is not a huge list, but the wines are good and the price comfortable on the pocket.

In addition, Nelson’s Brewery has produced a signature beer which, being a fan of real ales, I couldn’t resist also trying, just a soup�on. I thought the beer was very good and resolved to return for a snack and a beer at Keppel’s, this being one of my locals. Biddenden cider is also on the menu and the chef regularly tries recipes with these local ingredients.

The entire experience was quite delightful, so hopefully the Grand will be retaining its popular status with the residents of Folkestone, but also encourage visitors from farther afield.

As general manager, Robert says: “You should visit the Grand because we are unique. If you watch Agatha Christie, this is what you see. The menu uses Kentish produce with Kentish people.”

THE ESSENTIALS

Where: The Palm Court at The Grand

The Leas, Folkestone CT20 2XL

01303 222224

info@grand-uk.com

What: Edwardian seaside splendour

What’s the damage: �18 for two courses, �22 for three courses, carvery (�22)  on Sun. Wines �16.50-�26. A snack menu is available downstairs at Keppel’s, with prices from �4 upwards.

When: 7am-9m, 10pm Fri and Sat. Closed Sun evening.

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