The Grosvenor Hotel, with its long-held reputation for excellence in the city of Chester and beyond, has a new restaurant team offering that 'refined Cestrian experience'.

Dining in the finest of surroundings under the calm equine gaze of the most beloved 20th-century racehorse Arkle, turns out to be deliciously and glamorously unforgettable. The AA Rosette Grosvenor Arkle restaurant, now under the direction of executive head chef Elliot Hill, executive sous chef Sam Griffiths, head chef Raymond Booker and a highly skilled team both in the kitchen and front of house, exudes confidence and an eagerness to showcase the best of Cheshire and of North Wales.

Great British Life: Chester Grosvenor's 3AA Rosette Arkle Restaurant. (c) John AllenChester Grosvenor's 3AA Rosette Arkle Restaurant. (c) John Allen

Partly driven by necessity and evolving after the pandemic, there seems to be a decline in à la carte eating. Diners want to eat imaginatively yet sustainably; they want to be inspired and to enjoy something they can't produce at home, and with thought and experience, Elliot Hill has created the most delicious nine-course tasting menu at Arkle.

The best tasting menus offer the chance to choose dishes at certain points, allowing the diner to feel they have a little control over the experience. At Arkle, the detailed 'Notes from Chef' enables those choices.

Great British Life: Petits fours at Arkle restaurant, Chester Grosvenor (c) John AllenPetits fours at Arkle restaurant, Chester Grosvenor (c) John Allen

Before we came to our table we were given these chef's notes and the opportunity to choose between the wine list or the sommelier's suggested flight. Sommelier Boris Filip's approach is fittingly bold and innovative with unusual world-class wines and, on this occasion, lesser-known Japanese gems.

How refreshing to diverge from wine list predictability and share the expertise and excitement of someone prepared to venture into new territories.

Great British Life: Roots and shoots with beetroot as the star at Arkle restaurant, Chester Grosvenor (c) John AllenRoots and shoots with beetroot as the star at Arkle restaurant, Chester Grosvenor (c) John Allen

Then the show began. The canapés were witty and delicious bites: a take on fish and chips – brandade of cod enclosed in a beer batter croustade with tiny pieces of salt and vinegar batter topped with tiny pale green pearls from finger limes. Then an oriental mushroom pillow containing barbecued hen of the woods, truffle and crème fraiche, which was bursting with flavour.

The breads are made in-house. We enjoyed the red wine and fig bread partnered with marjoram and caper butter, but I had to pace myself for the feast that followed. The duck pressing with pickled walnut ketchup – a sumptuous whipped duck liver parfait with artfully placed blood oranges with an Aperol base – summed up the most delicious take on duck à la orange. The oyster combination of a poached oyster enclosed in a tempura batter with an oyster emulsion and sake jelly was an artistic creation that looked too good to eat. A visually stunning dish of various slow-roasted beetroot dressed with hints of honey, hibiscus, black garlic and dressed with a mild sheep's yoghurt was a triumph of sweetness and acidity, a contrast of soft melting roots with crunchy linseed wafers.

Great British Life: Whipped duck liver parfait at Arkle restaurant, Chester Grosvenor (c) John AllenWhipped duck liver parfait at Arkle restaurant, Chester Grosvenor (c) John Allen

We had a most interesting discussion with the sommelier about his collaboration with Elliot in pairing the wines with the interesting dishes. The Kanpai London Sake Brewery's stunning, almost savoury sake served cold with the oyster and beetroot dishes and was a revelation that would have gone undiscovered had I not chosen the wine flight.

A delicate dish of wild halibut, diver scallop and a Jerusalem artichoke purée was subtly enlivened by smoked pike roe, paired with the 2019 Gran Bazán Albarino, which was a perfect contrast of sweetness and acidity.

Choosing either the fillet of beef or the truffled hen gave us a welcome option often denied in a tasting menu. Both were exquisite and were complemented to their strengths by imaginative variations and beautifully presented luxurious side events. A Wagyu savoury doughnut leaped from my husband's plate to my fork and I had to exercise enormous willpower to return the remaining portion. A sparkling shiraz served cold from the Penley Estate, Coonawarra, was dry and refreshing and could happily pair with any meal. The second red – a proibida red from the Azores – was perfect with the fillet of beef and there was enough remaining to enjoy with the next course.

Great British Life: Fillet of beef at Arkle restaurant, Chester Grosvenor (c) John AllenFillet of beef at Arkle restaurant, Chester Grosvenor (c) John Allen

The cheese course presented us with another delicious opportunity to choose and I was delighted by the buckwheat sable consisting of a gorgeous combination of local Burt's Blue,and gorgonzola, served with caramelised apples in calvados, while John enjoyed his choices of soft and hard cheeses that were in perfect condition and beautifully presented. At this point I was treated to a sparkling moscatel that bridged the palate through to the glorious desserts.

A refreshment to take us from savoury to sweet followed, and it was quite simply the most exquisite froth of a summer garden with rhubarb and rose flavours gently combined to prepare us again for a choice of desserts. My Chester pudding was influenced by a Victorian lemon meringue pie packed with honey and gin with a crunch in tiny honeycomb pieces, which was a delight. I could have eaten more, but a sample of the chocolate dessert proved to be a complete symphony of a chocolate croquette with an oozing interior of caramel, accompanied by the most delicate sourdough ice cream, rounding off the most magnificent meal it has been our good fortune to enjoy.

Elliot visited us at the end of this delightful experience and we talked about how he hopes to evolve. His kindness and empathy towards his whole team shines out. He encourages the young front-of-house staff to share in the joy of the whole process and their knowledge of the food and its the provenance is palpable. He is a confident chef at the top of his game. He told us his greatest pleasure is in hearing knowledgeable feedback. Judging by the many happy people enjoying their food and wine, he must be hearing great things.

Great British Life: Arkle Restaurant executive sous chef Sam Griffiths. (c) John AllenArkle Restaurant executive sous chef Sam Griffiths. (c) John Allen

Tasting menu

Wednesday and Thursday £99; Friday and Saturday £115

Some dishes carry a supplementary charge.

A slightly shorter menu is available on Wednesday and Thursday at £85.

Wine flight


Arkle at the Chester Grosvenor

56-58 Eastgate Street, Chester CH1 1LT

01244 324024

Photography: John Allen Photography / Instagram: @johnallenphotographyuk