Wentworth Club – Wentworth Drive, Virginia Water, Surrey GU25 4LS www.wentworthclub.com
When it comes to choosing somewhere for a nice meal, a golf club probably isn’t the first venue that springs to mind. In a bid to escape the City, we headed to the leafy tranquillity of Virginia Water for a spot of lunch at the ‘The Grill Room’ in the exclusive Wentworth Club. Having played host to such golfing legends at Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and the now infamous Tiger Woods, Wentworth remains a private club. But with a rather attractive ‘House’ membership now available, you are guaranteed to be welcomed at the gate with open arms rather than being shot on site for as a trespasser.
The weather was glorious as we sat on the restaurant’s terrace overlooking nothing but manicured lawns and immaculate green landscapes as far as the eye could see. Neighbouring tables played host to golfers, families and glamorous lunching ladies enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the day. I’m told chef Leigh Diggins has genuinely transformed the menu at The Grill Room since he joined Wentworth last year… but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
Prawns with an unctuous lemon mayonnaise was the perfect entrée and the dressed Dorset crab seemed to do the trick for my companion. I couldn’t resist the temptation of a summer vegetable salad with Pecorino and truffle as a side and it was nothing short of sublime. Perfectly cooked baby vegetables, with ample crunch and bite, in a delicate vinaigrette emulsion were tossed with generous shavings of both Pecorino and truffle. What a beautifully uncomplicated dish, low on pretence but high on wow-factor.
Our first courses seemed a pretty tough act to follow and so there really was only one choice that stood out as having remotely any chance of successfully succeeding the starters, let alone surpassing them. The Rolls Royce of cuts, Chateaubriand with wild mushrooms and sauce Choron arrived with all the required ceremony and pomp one could hope for. The first expertly made incision into the meat revealed a perfectly cooked centre, quivering with medium-rare perfection… My mouth salivating at the prospect of a juicy mouthful and at first bite, the fastidious carnivore inside me found instant gratification. The wild mushroom and sauce Choron accompaniment were fine but with meat of this quality on your plate, it is near impossible to focus on anything else.
There were plenty of enticing options for dessert including white chocolate and black cherry tart, ice gooseberry and dandelion parfait as well as a more stodgy sticky toffee pudding and a selection of English cheeses. Aching for simplicity, I chose a few scoops of home-made ice cream including honeycomb, caramel and carrot. Ice cream was pretty straight forward but in warm weather, it proved to be a nice way to cool down. The carrot ice cream turned out to be the hands-down winner of my ice cream trio and why not? If carrot cake is acceptable, then so should carrot ice cream.
The Grill Room is a decadent culinary haven and definitely has what it takes to hold its own at this infamous golf club. Prices are not as extreme as you might expect for a club with this level of reputation; value for money is very much high on the agenda here and they certainly deliver on it. We took a leisurely post-lunch stroll on the grounds and took a peek at the gorgeous and inviting outdoor swimming pool with a bar, BBQ area and everything else you could hope to make your summer’s day simply dreamy.
House membership includes access to the gorgeous pool as well as the spa on site. What’s more, members are entitled to a 10% discount at The Grill Room as well as a whole host of events and benefits at a myriad of restaurants, hotels and venues in London and beyond, plus a private concierge service if you are so inclined. All this for the incredibly reasonable annual fee of just £384, which considering the facilities and accompanying privileges, is a steal.