On a recent rainy winters day I had the pleasure of enjoying a delicious lunch with my aunt and uncle in the heart of the Surrey countryside.
Great Fosters is a Grade 1 listed building located in Egham in Surrey. The building dates back to 1550 AD and was built as a Royal hunting lodge. Great Fosters has been beautifully preserved over the years and offers the perfect setting for weddings, an ideal location for business conferences, a place to enjoy a hearty lunch or dinner, or a perfect location to experience a luxurious romantic stay in one of the 43 well appointed hotel rooms.
Set in over 50 acres, even on a rainy day it was lovely to walk around and see the Saxon moat and the picturesque wisteria draped Japanese bridge that has been the setting for many wonderful wedding photographs. The bridge leads to a sunken circular rose garden and a grassed amphitheater. The grounds also boast an outdoor heated swimming pool, complete with a set of listed 1920’s bathing boxes, a tennis court, and a croquet green.
Great Fosters offers a variety of dining options. On this my fist visit (and I’m pretty sure I will be going back to experience more) we dined in The Estate Grill. This restaurant offers modern English and European cuisine. Diners can enjoy a pre or post dinner drink at one of the adjacent bars or in one of the many tiny nooks or rooms that are located throughout the building.
The Estate Grill opened its doors in 2013 and is an interesting mix of old and new. The fireplace has a date inscription of 1550, but the walls showcase a colorful collection from the contemporary British artist, Phillip Sutton. The artwork is available to purchase if you see one you can’t live without. The green leather chairs and glassware add a vibrant pop of color in contrast to the white walls and table linens. Impressive chandeliers and clever use of up lights fitted in-between the numerous wall and ceiling beams ensures the room is light and airy.
The menu changes with the seasons to ensure that the freshest local produce are showcased. The estate boasts its own kitchen garden providing vegetables, salad, and herbs. An onsite apiary produces honey, and the estate recently decided to breed middle white Gloucester old pot pigs.
The Estate Grill has an a la carte menu and also a midweek lunch set menu that varies according to what produce is available from the estate and local markets. The set menu offers two courses at GBP 24.50 or three courses at GBP 27.50. We decided to make our selections from the a la carte menu.
Once drinks had been ordered our server brought a basket of four different types of freshly baked breads to our table. While I wish I could say I resisted these carb-loaded delicacies, the look and delightful smell was just too much to resist.
My uncle enjoyed a dish of mackerel served with cucumber, potato, horseradish and seaweed as his starter. The mackerel was lightly cooked, almost rare looking, and the generous portion of fish was beautifully presented with a drizzle of horseradish sauce on a black plate.
Staying with fish, my uncle selected the fish pie for his main course. A dish of scallops, prawns, smoked haddock, cod, and sea vegetables topped with potatoes and greens proved very filling; a substantial portion cooked and served piping hot in a silver dish.
My aunt and I decided to pass on a starter and chose instead to share a dish that she had enjoyed on a previous visit. The Butchers Block is designed to be shared, and offers a selection of estate-reared pig served with sides of creamed mashed potatoes with truffle shavings, kale, and caramelized apples. I am not a fan of kale but this dish was a wonderfully pleasant surprise. Sadly when I commented to our server how thoroughly delicious the kale had tasted she burst my bubble and told me that the secret was to cook it in cream – there goes my diet again! The caramelized apples went beautifully with the various pieces of pork that included belly, braised ox cheek, sausage roll and crackling. A tasty scotch egg and gravy completed our dish.
All the members of staff who we spoke with during our visit were extremely friendly. While taking photos a gentleman (who I believe was the duty manager) stopped by to check if we needed any assistance, and to share with us a little bit of the history of the property.
Lunch was a very relaxed affair with time between courses unhurried. Dishes were not cleared from the table until all diners had completed their last mouthful and had been given a little extra time to contemplate if they truly had finished; such a refreshing change from the fussing that I often experience in Mumbai, or the rush to turn the table in some Houston restaurants.
Our main server struggled with a few descriptions as English was not her first language, but another lady who was extremely knowledgeable about the menu soon backed her up. The sommelier was the only person who was perhaps having a little bit of an off day. After asking him what individual glasses of wine we could select from, he simply gave the menu to my uncle and walked off.
Great Fosters, and The Estate Grill in particular, is a perfect setting for a relaxed lunch in a stunning venue. I am only sad that David didn’t get a chance to enjoy the experience but I am pretty sure that he will get an opportunity soon. The combination of stately setting and comfortable friendliness of staff is quite a rarity to be appreciated.
Address: Stroude Road, Egham, Surrey TW20 9UR
Phone: 01784 433822
Estate Grill Opening Hours: Monday – Friday Lunch 12.30-2.30, Dinner 6.30-9.30, Saturday all day from 12.30, last orders 10. Sunday Lunch 12.30-4, Dinner 6-9
Other info: A service charge of 10% is automatically added to the check.