Set along the Norfolk coast, The Grove in Cromer is an independent hotel established in 1936, now with outdoor holiday cottages and glamping pitches. Fancying a weekend by the seaside, bloggers Charlotte, Alex and I went along at the start of June for a little British break. The weather was glorious and we enjoyed a day by the beach front eating fish and chips before returning to our cute cottage; Merryweather.
Made for families or groups of four, the Merryweather was the perfect size for us 3 (I somehow snaffled one of the comfy twin beds with Charlotte whilst Alex slept on one of the futons in the mezzanine). The decoration verged on shabby chic with charming furniture and a tasteful colour scheme. Just the right size for us with a clean, modern bathroom and lots of floor/sofa space to put our many outfits. The hairdryer was rather retro though, so I recommend taking your own.
The grounds were lovely and leafy, with an allotment on site for extra fresh veggies and herbs. There were picnic tables lit by fairy lights and a treehouse nestled in the trees nearby - perfect for families!
With some great accolades and two AA Rosettes, we decided to eat at The Grove restaurant for the evening too. We luckily got in around the time we wanted, having booked a few days in advance. So if you're definitely looking to eat there I recommend making a reservation.
We were seated in the living room area and invited to leisurely explore the menu with a cold glass of something boozy. The waiter asked if we needed three strong G&T (is that a reflection on us?) but we settled on a Pinot Noir chosen by wine expert Alex. I'd preorder my lobster so knew what my main was to be, and we all agreed that we couldn't come to Cromer and not have the crab starter!
The restaurant is mostly decorated in deep, jewel toned green with mahogany furniture and a nod to the original 1930s features. Surprisingly, the large windows, high ceilings and scattered candles meant that the dining room didn't feel at all dark, despite the dark decor.
It wasn't long until our mains came out - with excited faces all round! The Cromer Crab and Garden Cucumber Tian (£7.95) came with a Marie-Rose sauce, lemon oil, garden leaves and smoked prawns on top. The crab, which was caught that morning, had a beautiful sweet taste and great texture which went well with the prawns and cucumber. If we were to change anything, we thought the cucumber could have been sliced really fine for an extra gourmet feel. All round well received!
For mains, I went for the aforementioned whole John Davies’ Cromer Lobster (£27.95) with thermidor sauce. There was a choice of garlic & chill, natural or au gratin, all coming with sides of garden leaves, smoked prawns, crayfish and new potatoes.
It was said to go well with the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, “Whitehaven” however we were now onto a bottle of English Humbleyard. These are a East Anglian based company with vineyards right there in Norfolk. The wine itself was very crisp with a floral elderflower aroma - I can imagine it would go with just about any dish!
Caught that day, my lobster was delicious and meaty in all the right places. The thermidor was much more cheesy than one I've had before, almost with a mature Cheddar taste. It was a gorgeous board of food to make my way through, and that I did.
The girls had Rack of Icarus Hines’ Norfolk Lamb (£18.95) which came with herb & Dijon mustard mash, confit cherry tomatoes, red potatoes, viola and cherry blossom, and Garden Rosemary Crusted Pork Tenderloin (£16.95) with a sun dried cherry, Grove garden apple bourbon sauce.
As you may have read, or will read, on Gingey's review, there were mixed feelings about these dishes. In general they agreed the presentation was stunning and the produce great, but also were slightly nonplussed with the flavours and have tasted better elsewhere. So good - but not almost £20 mind blowing.
We did love the effort on homegrown vegetables and herbs though, which really shone through in the presentation and though behind their side dishes. It wasn't just boring veg plonked on a plate - it was pretty and colourful.
For dessert, I went for Lavender Treacle Tart with vanilla ice cream, Alex chose the Blackcurrant and Beetroot Mousse with ginger shortbread and Charlotte opted for Lemon Meringue Parfait with a tuille biscuit. All of the puds, including cheese board, are £6.95 each.
My tart has a superb crisp base and chewy treacle filling. The lavender was subtle enough and worked well through the sweetness of the tart and rich ice cream. I would have personally preferred a slice rather than individual tart as I love the texture of the edges, but that's just me being picky.
The other two sweets went down well too. Although the beetroot wasn't to my taste, Alex really enjoyed the richness with a savoury edge.
In all, the bill came to around £45 a head with two bottles of wine which we though was pretty good. The hotel was £185 for a night which wasn't too bad value for the three of us, and also included breakfast.
I was a fan of the cute vintage style crockery and fresh flowers dotted about the bright dining room. There were a choice of cereal, juices and yogurts, whilst we waited for our breakfast cooked to order.
I think Charlotte probably chose best here, with a classic English breakfast which looked brilliant. I enjoyed my salmon gravadlax and toasted muffin, with poached egg instead of the advertised scrambled. I really did regret my decision in the end though, as the lovely yellow egg yolk wasn't gooey at all. I've also had Norfolk Kippers for breakfast before, which were gorgeous and would have been a fitting menu option here in East Anglia.
In all, it was a brilliant weekend with great company! It fitted exactly what we were looking for in a foodie trip away, but would be perfect for families and couples all the same.
Have you ever stayed at The Grove? What are your favourite restaurants in Cromer? If you have any suggestions for foodie weekends away do let me know!
95 overstrand rd
Directions: The hotel is just after the double roundabout out of Cromer and on your left. There is ample parking for all guests. You probably wouldn't want to walk from the town centre, but it's only a ten minute drive.
Note: The Grove did not know that we were bloggers and that we were planning to review the hotel or restaurant. We paid for our room and all our drinks and meals. As always, my opinions are honest and my own.