April 27th, 2007

Feast

The Arkle

Location: The Chester Grosvenor Hotel, Eastgate. Chester.

I knew the meal was going to be good as soon as I saw the bread trolley. Bread trolley! It featured a choice of about 15 loaves of bread from which slices were cut on request. Bread varieties ranged from banana to spinach-and-olive to granary to pumpkin seed. After negotiating whether we wanted salted or unsalted butter, we each began to eat our slices. But really I should go back an hour or so, for the meal really started in the Living Room.

The Chester Grosvenor Hotel is a sumptuous venue. We walked into a marble-floored lobby of off-white, broad surfaces neatly laid with informative brochures and flower arrangements. Only one staff member was immediately apparent but clearly - from both the nature of the hotel and later service - it's a well-staffed venture. The Living Room is the hotel's lounge, located off of the lobby. Cozy chairs and sofas crowd around tables where dramatically tall martini glasses loom over more modest drinks. That's the height my classic dacquiri achieved as I nibbled on a variety of cheese straws robust enough to take the accompanying spreads, one truffled, the other salmon'd. The outsized menus were a hazard to my tower drink - I was duly warned when my menu was handed to me.

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The Arkle has comfortable, relaxing environment, excellent service, and food which was thoroughly competent at its worse, and at its best superb. I would love to go back the next time I'm near Chester. (P.S. The hotel's brasserie is also meant to serve very good food - and at cheaper prices.)