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The Mirabelle at The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne

Clifford Mould helped celebrate its 20th Birthday

The Mirabelle at The Grand Hotel, EastbourneLooking back, I notice that it was in 1999 when we last visited this splendid restaurant – it must have been to celebrate its 10th birthday, since when it has gone from strength to strength with many successes for members of the kitchen brigade in culinary competitions and salons. To mark the beginning of its third decade the restaurant has been refurbished in a way that combines the essential grandeur one expects in a five star hotel, with a charming intimacy – tables neither crowded together nor coldly distant. And, like many “fine dining” restaurants in top hotels, it has its own street entrance.

I usually leave comment about the service to the end of the meal, unless it was so good (or disastrously bad) that I can’t wait to tell you about it! The service when we visited was not merely good, it was impeccable. It was palpably apparent that excellent training is an ongoing feature of employment at The Grand, the fruitful results of which can be seen throughout the hotel. In the Mirabelle itself, the young but knowledgeable German sommelière, Gesa Ritter, takes her job very seriously and spared no effort to accommodate the needs of three diners who each chose something different. Above all, the restaurant manager Ben Warren is a great role model for his team: he is everything the modern maitre d’ should be.

Now for the food! The head chef is Gerald Röser, clearly most highly regarded amongst his peers, as he is the Chairman of the Guild of Master Chefs of Great Britain. At dinner, £37.00 inclusive of service, he offers a three course prix fixée menu with four choices for each course. There is an additional seasonal classics menu with some mouth watering entries, each carrying a somewhat eye watering supplement. Choosing exclusively from this seasonal menu could ratchet your food bill to £62.00 per guest, but we are talking foie gras, caviar and oysters!

Shortly after sitting down we were brought some very pretty little canapés, then in the gap between ordering and our first course coming, out came an eye-catching pre-starter which amused the bouche as much as it did the eyes. Chef Röser’s use of herbs and spices is particularly well judged, as was apparent in the dahl flavouring of the silky smooth pumpkin soup, and the delicate, creamy mustard sauce with the fresh and flakey smoked haddock. A soufflé of pike was a worthy signature dish, complete with the contrasting flavour of smoked salmon and a dill sauce that did not remind one of gravadlax!

I enjoyed the touches of retro- style service when our main dishes came out. The ceremony of the silver domes was deftly performed, properly, but not taking itself too seriously. Silver service of vegetables into each diner’s oval side dish was probably a bit over the top, but it’s good to see waiting skills that haven’t been dumbed down.

My son was determined to have the fillet steak (+£14.50), very tender and pink; he commented particularly on the intensity of the flavours of the wild mushrooms and of the glossy Madeira reduction. His wife is a veggie and she really enjoyed her Fennel and tomato gratin, which tasted to me like a rather superior pizza topping. I had the tender roast pork fillet whose principal garnish was snail porridge which is not as frightening as it sounds. The snails are served whole, not all ground up in the porridge: the finished effect was more like a risotto.

I noticed that plums featured in a number of dishes, most probably triggered by the name Mirabelle, a French variety of plum. I had the Spiced poached plums with vanilla mascarpone and pain perdue. By this time I was feeling pretty full, so I was relieved to find only one little plum on one of a pair of small pieces of what we used to call “eggie bread” and a dollop of marscapone on the other. The Caramelised honey ice cream is to be recommended as is the Lime cream with bitter orange sauce, though we weren’t sure why this dessert should attract a £2.00 surcharge.

The presentation of all the dishes we were offered was quite exemplary – the Mirabelle is clearly the place to go for a touch of culinary theatre! Chef Röser also proposes a tasting menu of five courses for £54.00 which looks really interesting so long as everyone on the table agrees to this option. Every so often there is a special gourmet evening where the cooking of some particular region is featured. Details of forthcoming events are highlighted on the Mirabelle website, Perhaps I’ll see you at one of these events?

Clifford Mould March 2009

The Mirabelle at the Grand Hotel – Dine Online Highly Recommended
Jevington Gardens
Eastbourne, East Sussex

Reservations 01323 412345


UK Restaurant Reviews – The Best Of The Dine Online Restaurant Reviews 2001 - 2010

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