One chilly autumnal night, one of my best friends and I made our way to the Grand Hotel in Tynemouth for a preview of their brand new Tasting Menu in their new brasserie.
The Grand Hotel has been a long standing favourite along the Tynemouth seafront for many years and has been known as a go-to destination for afternoon tea and special occasions. It is a grand building with a welcoming, homely feel.
However they have given their restaurant a face lift to transform it into a brasserie, designed for everyone. The idea is that the restaurant isn't just a destination for hotel guests or those celebrating a special occasion but for those in the local area looking for an evening meal.
The Tynemouth area is very much known as a hub of fantastic restaurants so the new brasserie should fit in nicely. The decor is stunning and those murals on the wall are soon to be replaced with wood panelling to complete that Brasserie feel and to make it bang on trend.
I'm loving the mix of contemporary brasserie styling combined with traditional art deco touches and gorgeous chandeliers.
With a new restaurant comes a new menu and on this night, we were trying out The Taster; the new tasting menu featuring a selection of what the restaurant anticipate to be their most popular dishes.
We were seated at a lovely table in the window, looking out onto Longsands Beach which was an impressive view as the dark night drew in.
The Taster has an impressive 7 courses at at only £31 per person, it is very competitively priced as far as tasting menus go. My friend and I were very excited to see what each dish would hold.
To begin, we had a choice of soup; a vegetable broth or a velouté.
We both opted for the vegetable broth which was served with deliciously fresh, crusty bread. In all honesty the soup was lovely but it wasn't anything to write home about.
When I'm dining out, I like to enjoy dishes that I couldn't necessarily have at home and this wasn't that.
The second course was grilled asparagus with potted gorgonzola and smoked paprika mayonnaise on dressed rocket. The asparagus was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of bite and the gorgonzola wasn't too overpowering at all which was great for me as I'm not usually a fan.
We both agreed that this dish was absolutely delicious and one of our favourites from the tasting menu.
The fish course was another of our favourites; sea bass. Two fillets that had been pan fried and served with a lemon and herb butter, prawns and parsley. There was a generous half of lemon on the side and a sliced potato side, a bit like dauphinoise. This was absolutely delicious and the whole dish was seasoned well and cooked to perfection.
For a tasting menu, this felt like an incredibly large portion, more of a main meal size.
It was served with the Salad Brasserie, consisting of chargrilled pepper, courgette, cherry tomatoes, olives, avocado, rocket and toasted brioche. This dish was right up my street and I loved the mix of ingredients; this is something that I would order alone on a summers day!
I didn't think that the Salad Brasserie was perfectly suited to the fish course though. We were asked if we would like to have it with the fish or the meat course so we opted to have it brought to the table with our fish course and to just leave it to pick at over the two courses, however it suited the next course even less...
The meat course was a French classic, Beef Bourguignon and the pot above was to serve the two of us. There was a salad garnish on the side of the plate and a slice of toasted brioche.
The beef was so tender, it melted in my mouth. Although superbly cooked, this isn't a dish that I would have chosen to order and not one that I'd say was a good fit for a tasting menu. The portion size was colossal and such a hearty, intensely flavoured dish really lacked the finesse that I'd expect from a tasting menu.
A side dish of rice was also served alongside the beef which when combined with the Salad Brasserie and brioche, made for an incredibly strange pairing. While I'm by no means a chef, I do think seasonal vegetables would have been better suited.
A plate of four mini desserts was served for pudding; three were cold and one was hot, including a custard tart and ice cream served on a shot glass. While I do think that mini individual tarts would have been more suited to the styling of a tasting menu, rather than a larger tart cut into quarters, each taste was delicious and a lovely way to end our meal.
There's something for everyone with this dessert and each bite was beautifully flavoured.
To bring our meal to a complete close, we enjoyed a coffee each with a chocolate on the side which was very yummy and a lovely touch.
Following our meal, we were able to sit and chat for as long as desired. There was no pressure to leave and the staff were friendly and attentive. When my friend and I get together we've always go so much to talk about so to be able to enjoy each others company without feeling as though there was a time limit on it was really nice.
While the food served as part of The Taster was impeccably well cooked, I don't feel as though there was any flow to the tasting menu. The portions were far too large to have the delicate feel that tasting menu usually has and the dishes didn't seem to go together. I do think that the tasting menu is good value for money for what you get but it isn't something that I would go back to The Grand Hotel to order.
However I would certainly go back to order from the main menu as the dishes sound delicious and every course that we enjoyed from the tasting menu was so well cooked that I would assume the rest of the menu would be to such a high standard too.
With such an incredible view, I think that The Grand Hotel would be the perfect place for a date night.
You can find The Grand Hotel on 14 Grand Parade, Tynemouth, NE30 4ER and bookings can be made on 0191 293 6666.
What dish do you like the look of the most?