The Grand Night Out
Have you been to the spa at The Grand Hotel Brighton? Oh my goodness me what a treat! My sister and I went along a couple of Thursdays ago and we can’t sing its praises highly enough.
We were treated to the Girls Night Out package so had a treatment and some spa time as well as a delicious dinner out. We didn’t stick to the letter of the package and added in a couple of cocktails and some rock oysters but I felt that the occasion warranted some additional treats.
A Joy To Behold
The Spa at the Grand Hotel Brighton is a joy to behold. It is spacious and luxurious and relaxing and indulgent and beautiful. I am so sorry that I haven’t been there before. I promise to do better in future.
A Winner Of An Evening
Any evening that starts with you walking into the reception of the Grand Hotel is almost certainly going to be a winner. This particular Thursday was no exception. We were greeted and shown to the stairs leading down to the Spa.
As soon we we arrived we were sure we were in for a treat.
We were shown to the changing rooms and invited to make ourselves comfortable in the cafe area while we waited for our therapists. The Girls Night Out package includes a choice of hand or foot treatment. I went for hands and my sister opted for feet. I don’t know why but I imagined something more like a manicure or pedicure so in my mind’s eye we were going to be chatting our way through the treatments so we asked for the couples room.
Let me tell you right now that there is nothing chatty or giggly about these hand and foot treatments. Having changed into robes we sat in the cafe area of the spa filling in those safety forms. Our therapists came to meet us and take us to our treatment room. We discussed the answers on our form and chose from a delicious sounding and smelling selection of treatment potions.
A Range Of Scrubs And Oils
Once you have chosen from the range of relaxing, uplifting or detoxing scrubs and oils you are invited to lie back on the treatment table and make yourself comfortable. Correction, you are invited to lie back on the gently heated, deliciously comfortable, treatment table. Your therapist then spends half an hour or so gently and expertly kneading and stroking and scrubbing and soothing your chosen limbs through a wondrously relaxing treatment. Needless to say, there was no talking.
After our treatment we were left to compose ourselves before we were invited to the relaxation room. Now, I have experienced one or two of these things in the past and I have never been quite sure of the point. As soon as I am told to sit in the relaxation room and relax I seem to be able to do anything but. And anyway, what it so relaxing about sitting in a semi-reclining position in a dressing gown with a bunch of other people you have never seen before? Aren’t we all just sitting there wondering how long is the proper amount of time to sit there? I’ve checked Debrett’s, it has nothing on the subject.
The relaxation room at the spa at the Grand is simply lovely. It is large, very spacious, with armchairs, and sofas, furniture to recline on, sit on, lie on – whatever you feel like. It may well be a different experience on a very busy day but for us it was lovely. This is were we had a nice drink and started to move into the more conversational part of the evening. This relaxation room did exactly what it said on the tin.
When we were ready – and not a minute sooner – we got our selves ready and were guided upstairs to the GB1 restaurant and a seat by the window.
Cocktails were definitely in order and I think our choices reflect the 10 year age difference with me – the older of the two – selecting an Old Fashioned and her selecting an an Oriental Collins. The Oriental Collins was Gin, Lychee liqour, fresh chilli, orange juice, fresh lemon, soda. “A delicious and light and fresh drink, with just the slightest chili kick”
The Old Fashioned: Muddled sugar, orange rind and Angostura bitters, stirred with Woodford Reserve Bourbon a proper grown-up cocktail as is befits my status of new mum.
The staff at GB1 are perfectly attentive without ever intruding. They know the food they serve and are happy to make recommendations or answer questions. We were offered bread and declined but when scallop roe popcorn was suggested we paused: “Fish popcorn!?” “Yes” – said our lovely waiter – “I often get that response but it really is very good.” So we tried it. And we liked it. The scallop roe flavour was present but gentle and we both enjoyed it as a savoury popcorn flavour.
Next came our Oysters. Three each wasn’t exactly necessary but it has been a long time since the two of us have been out for the evening so we thought we should make the most of it. To me Oysters are like a walk on the beach on a cool windy day: fresh and uplifting. The Rock Oysters were served with a choice of raspberry vinegar and shallot, vodka and tomato, or chilli and ginger.
For her starter Lydia went for Moules Marinier: “really fresh, really good” “A good balance of the flavour of the mussels and of the sauce.”
“The sauce itself is very light” – she said while finishing it off like a bowl of soup.
For some reason that I can’t begin to explain I opted for a non-seafood starter. I know, why on earth would anyone in their right mind do that in a seafood restaurant? I blame that relaxing treatment in the spa. My non-seafood starter was a nice fresh and light tomato and houmous dish. It was very pretty but it was not Moules Marinier.
Lydia’s main was the John Dory special: served with baby fondant potatoes, cauliflower puree, and burnt (“but not in a bad way!”) leeks. “Light. All the flavours compliment each other. No single overpowering flavour. Fish is very succulent.” “No dramatic texture change, you know, like the random appearance of croutons”
For my main I was back on form with my order for peppered squid. The seasoning was beautiful, the squid was well cooked and there were a few little tentacles poking out of the bowl which I confess I like very much. I get a strange satisfaction from eating tentacles because as a child I always thought my mother was amazing because she could eat tentacles and appeared to like them. I must be a mother now if I can drink whiskey-based cocktails and eat tentacles.
I must do a little shout out to my green beans with garlic. I love garlic. I can eat it raw chopped into a salad (especially potato salad) without flinching but it annoys me when restaurant greens – when ordered as a side – are overwhelmed with too much garlic or fuss in general. These had a lovely subtle garlicky taste. As a side should be.
Somehow we even managed dessert.
The Valrhona chocolate fondant with banana, smoky bacon maple waffle ice cream and salted pecans was my idea of a great pudding. The flavours were great – separate or combined – and there was plenty to enjoy.
The Blueberry (dusted with fennel seeds, caramel, fennel sorbetto and fennel shortbread) included a surprisingly high number of blueberries. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised but it is most unusual, in my experience, to actually get a lot of anything in a dessert dish. This was no ‘blueberry as garnish’ situation. This was a lovely bowl of blueberries served with a few small shortbread biscuits and a little sorbetto. You could practically see those free radicals running from the scene in the face of all those antioxidants.
Having a window seat at night with the lights of the cars going past was a lovely contrast to the atmosphere inside. Inside the GB1 restaurant feels relaxed, intimate, luxurious and yes, grand.