How do you fancy a one night stay with dinner and breakfast for two at the lovely Grim’s Dyke Hotel in Harrow?
If you help PhD student Pedro Longart with some research, you could be in with a chance of winning this.
Pedro, who is undertaking his PhD at Buckinghamshire New University has been in touch to tell us that he is currently conducting academic research into the consumer decisions associated with restaurant selection. As part of this, he is running an on-line survey to help gather information on the decision making processes of restaurant goers.
He’d like to get the views of as many people as possible and wonders if some of our followers might be interested in helping him?
As a way of thanking those who are willing to spend a few minutes answering his on-line questionnaire, Pedro has secured the support of the Grim’s Dyke Hotel in Harrow. On offer is a free glass of wine at the hotel for all respondents, plus the chance to win a prize draw to win a one night stay at the Grim’s Dyke Hotel with breakfast and dinner for two people.
If you’d like to help with the research and be in with a chance of winning his prize draw, please go to his on-line survey where you’ll need to create your own user name and password which will allow you to return to complete the survey whenever you want. You then need to tweet Pedro @pedro_longart so that he can send a coupon for the glass of wine.
The deadline for responses is 15th March 2014 and the prize draw is due to take place on 31st March.
Please note UK Dining has no affiliation or involvement in the survey, incentives or prize draw, we are simply giving a helping hand to Pedro in his search for respondents!
There has been something of a quiet restaurant revolution going in Sheffield over the last decade. Though you might nowadays have to tuck in using something other than Sheffield’s finest cutlery – it being produced in somewhat lower quantities than it was in the hey day of Sheffield steel – there is a positive bloom of talented chefs in the city, putting some of Sheffield’s restaurants firmly on the map.
A case in point is Rafters Restaurant in the city’s suburb of Nethergreen. If you didn’t know it was there, you could quite easily miss it, located as it is up a narrow staircase on the first floor above a little parade of shops . You know where to find it now though.
It’s an intimate, stylish restaurant set under a marvellous vaulted roof with exposed beams (hence the name apparently) so it feels very light and airy. The restaurant staff, though utterly professional, are refreshingly down to earth and unpretentious – no-one looks down their nose if you ask for a jug of tap water here, though still and sparkling mineral water are of course available if you prefer it.
Chef Patron Marcus Lane has created quite a name for himself on the local restaurant scene and as we were to find out, quite rightly so. The main a la carte menu has a set price of £36.95 per person for three courses, but between Monday to Thursday there is also a special menu with fewer choices on it, but which offers two courses and a complimentary glass of wine for £25 per person, making it pretty good value. On Monday nights only, they also have a bring your own wine policy with a small corkage fee.
The whole experience oozed quality, from the little touches such as the delicious complimentary canapes of cod tempura and goat’s cheese tartlets, to the mouthwatering selection of fresh warm breads. We opted for the two course menu and started things off with king prawns with a mango salsa and a terrine of organic chicken, ham and leeks. Both were beautifully presented and tasted delicious. A little water melon sorbet arrived as a palate cleanser, another lovely little touch that brought with it a taste of Mediterranean summer days.
For main courses, we’d selected a Parmesan crusted roast cod with aubergine and chickpeas and roast duck breast with baby vegetables. The cod was a wonderful thick fillet, moist and flaking to the fork and perfectly seasoned to allow the delicate flavours to shine. The duck breast, just slightly pink in the middle was meltingly tender. Portions were generous and filling; if anything there was too much duck breast and we’d have happily forfeited half the meat for more vegetables, but if was truly the only niggle we could come up with on the night and that said, it was a very small niggle.
We finished off with rich dark coffee and petits fours and after adding a couple of additional glasses of wine, we’d had a thoroughly good meal in a restaurant with a very relaxed warm ambiance for a touch under £70. It was worth it and that’s not something you can often say with complete honesty after a restaurant meal.
There’s nothing like a steam train to evoke the nostalgia of a bygone era – all it takes is the toot of the whistle and a blast of steam to transport us back in time, when travel – or so we believe – was so much more decadent and enjoyable than it is now.
So, a few weeks ago, when we found ourselves coincidentally in Sussex in time to step into the world of Pullman dining on the Bluebell Railway’s Golden Arrow train, we jumped at the chance.
The Golden Arrow, with its recently refurbished Pullman cars ‘Christine’ and ‘Lilian’ and 1674 Restaurant Car, recreates the famous Golden Arrow luxury boat train of the 1920’s, which linked London and Paris. Originally a first class only service, this historic train was once one of the most glamorous and famous trains in the world.
What does one wear to dine in style on this Pullman service we wondered? Well, the dress code said smart casual, so thankfully no tiara was required and we plumped for our best summer finery. We were pleased to note that – with the exception of one or two folk who let the side down we thought with a sniff – most other guests had got into the spirit of it too, so the platform thronged with ladies in silk frocks and strappy sandals and men in their smart shirts and linen jackets. The service is run largely by volunteers who dress the part with natty uniforms and white gloves, recreating some of the glamour and service of yesteryear to make it an experience to remember.
After a quick drink in the station bar, we were grandly shown to our seats in the plush green splendour of Lilian carriage and with a toot of the whistle, we set off from Sheffield Park station. We were instantly transported back in time and everyone relaxed back in their seats, in a setting that for all the world looked as if it was waiting for an appearance from Margaret Rutherford in a classic Hitchcock murder mystery. Obviously, we weren’t going to get anywhere near Paris on this trip, but all we needed was a bit of imagination to get a taste of the past as we tootled up and down the restored section of the track on the Bluebell line.
It has to be said that the food and service on board was superb, light years away from anything we’ve ever experienced on a modern train… The menus change each month and we had a choice of three starters and four main courses, one of which is vegetarian but must be ordered in advance. There is a very reasonably priced wine list to chose from and to round things off, there are two pudding options followed by coffee.
It was silver service all the way and we got off to a scrumptious start with a roast red pepper soup and a pate, though we did have a few hairy moments when the train lurched just as soup was being ladled from the tureen into the bowl! Luckily, the waitress knew her stuff and still got most of it into the bowl, with the exception of a few small splashes, so disaster was averted. I wouldn’t fancy serving soup on a train though.
A succulent stuffed chicken breast and a roast vegetable crumble with a nutty crisp topping came with a lovely selection of perfectly cooked fresh vegetables and we polished off the lot. By now, it was pitch dark outside and had started to rain with a vengeance, which only served to add another dollop of dark intrigue to the evening.
By the time we’d finished puddings and coffee, we been on our ‘journey’ for a good three hours, and we were thoroughly steeped in a warm cloak of nostalgia. We stepped off the train under the shelter of large black umbrellas held up for us by the staff. It was the final touch of perfection to a very memorable evening.