NUTHURST GRANGE - New Years Eve Gala Dinner

New Year's Eve Celebrations are one of the highlights of our year and over the last few years we have had quite a mixed bag of good and bad experience at a range of venues across the West Midlands. So finding the 'real place' with 'real food' and 'real fun', to welcome in 2014, was high on our priority list in 2013.

We found it at Nuthurst Grange Country House Hotel, just outside Hockley Heath in Warwickshire. Set in stunning idyllic countryside surroundings, this cosy and relaxing hotel, with open fires and deep filled sofas, was a 'real' find for the festive celebration. We feasted like royalty, thanks to the mouth watering dishes prepared by head chef, Andrew Glover. The staff were always on hand to deliver friendly and helpful service and ensure that our New Year festivities went to plan.

The Gala Dinner Dance was a 'real' special evening, from the red carpet entrance with welcoming Champagne drinks and canapés to the impeccable eight-course dinner and the traditional Scottish bagpiper, welcoming in 2014 in style.

Arriving at 7.30pm, my wife and I were served with drinks and canapes and shown into one of the large lounge areas (below) with their comfy settees and luxurious carpets. It was as if were in close friends country house. Canapes of deep fried king prawns and mushroom vol-au-vents appeared again later while we chatted with our fellow guests.

At about 8.15pm, we were shown to our table in one of the two dining areas (below). Beautifully laid for the occasion, each table was endowed with a large 'goodie' bag of festive accessories, from party hats, to streamers, to bubbles to party poppers. Superbly pressed table linen, gleaming cutlery and glistening glassware adorned the dining room. The event was well attended with about a hundred guests dispersed across two dining rooms and the conservatory. This black tie and cocktail dress event was well respected by all guests with an adults only feel. With fresh bread and herb butter served and wine ordered our gala dinner began with Scallops on  a Carrot Gel with Salsify and Watercress Salad.

Beautifully cooked, the scallops melted in the mouth and were admirably supported by the tang of the carrot gel and the bite and freshness of the watercress. Our bottle of Italian Gavi was nicely chilled and efficiently served by one of  the array of waiters on duty. A bowl of Smoked Chicken Broth with Black Truffle and Tarragon Bread came next and this consume was generously filled with strips of tasty meat. A nice light course. Empty bowls were quickly despatched back to the kitchen. The fish course followed the soup - Sea Bass Ballotine with Roasted Radish and Lemon Dressing. The sea bass was delightfully light and fresh and exquisitely presented on the plate. A work of art from the chef!

The main course of the gala dinner was a Trio of Beef - Pan Fried Fillet, Cottage Pie and Char Grilled Rump Cap with Celeriac Puree and Wild Mushrooms. Again, a well prepared dish, despite the slightly rare fillet, for my taste, but an amusing cottage pie array and a succulent rump. With a fully decked highland piper serenading us in the background we delighted in the elegant festive surroundings of Nuthurst Grange.

A dessert of Passion Fruit Souffle, with Fruit Cocktail and Coconut Truffles proved a wonderful palate cleanser with the sharpness of the cocktail balancing the fresh lightness of the excellent soufflé. There was just the cheese course left to compete a tremendous gala meal - Crispy Goats Cheese with Slice Poach Pear and Celery Cress. Eaten with pleasure!

After Coffee and Petit Fours, we all adjourned to the dance floor to rock away the last hour before the tones of Big Ben, welcoming in 2014. The DJ played music befitting the clientele of aged 40 to 70 years and with the Scottish Piper arriving just on midnight and with Auld Lang Syne ringing out, a marvellous display of fireworks erupted from the patio outside. A good twenty minutes of bangs, sparkles and colour lit up the grounds of Nuthurst Grange and rounded off a wonderful New Year's Eve.

We hope to return to Nuthurst Grange for New Year's Eve again next year and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good value New Year experience where attention to detail and real food and real service is important. This year it cost £99.95 per person and was of course a Black Tie and Cocktail Dress event, but I love dressing up to welcome in a new year!



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