Nuthurst Grange, Warwickshire Restaurant Review

PUBLISHED: 16:57 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:08 20 February 2013

Head Chef Stuart Nicholson

Head Chef Stuart Nicholson

Warwickshire Life editor Colin Clark tries out the lunchtime menu at Nuthurst Grange.

Warwickshire Life editor Colin Clark tries out the lunchtime menu at Nuthurst Grange.

The four businessmen on the next table were puzzled. "We didn't order this," one politely told the waitress. "No sir, it's with compliments of the chef," she replied, with equal politeness.

The incident wouldn't have been particularly notable except that it happened three times during their lunch at Nuthurst Grange one sunny and very pleasant afternoon.

I had just driven from Warwick after interviewing a contender for the Miss England competition who turned out to be as pleasant and lovely a girl as you could hope to meet. I was now at my second job of the day - trying out the luncheon menu at one of the county's finest restaurants. I can almost feel your sympathy as I write this... yes, it's a dirty job but someone's got to do it!

On the down side my intended dining partner had been forced to cancel - some mix-up with a client, an aquarium and something I didn't quite understand, meant she had other fish to fry.

Still, I had no fears of flying solo on this particular job and settled into Nuthurst's lounge and enjoyed the wonderful views of the gardens until someone approached me with a menu and my first complimentary course of the afternoon.

It was a starter plate containing an array of miniature delicacies including fish and chips, shepherd's pie, chilli chicken, cheese straws and parsnip crisps. If these were complimentary what were the paid for dishes going to be like?

Well, before I even started to order I needed advice and restaurant manager Apo was only too happy to oblige. I was there to try Nuthurst's new luncheon menu and, Apo assured me, it was going to be a very thorough trial.

Head chef Stuart Nicholson is a local lad who really knows his way around a kitchen. Forget the youthful looks and cheery smile, 28-year-old Stuart is a very serious man who has created a dream of a menu. I'm sure if I simply listed the dishes on offer it would be enough in itself to tempt you into visiting the restaurant, but I'm going to do more than that, I'm going to talk you through at least eight courses - I actually lost count because the "chef's compliments" extras also popped up at intervals.

The restaurant offers three lunchtime options, to keep things simple I'll list them and their prices.

Testing menu with glass of Champagne, 49.95.

Luncheon A'la Carte seven course, 34.95 including coffee and petit fours.

Luncheon menu two course 16.95, three course, 18.95, both with complimentary glass of wine.

So, there are the options, now comes the difficult part - making the choices.

I say again this menu is a delight, I've had my mini dishes, I'm tucking into a chef's appetiser of butternut squash soup with ceps and truffle foam and thinking what I should order for my first course.

Fortunately the decision was taken out of my hands. I had met chef Stuart before and I was there at his invitation so there was no point in me trying to do a "secret review".

Instead Stuart popped his head round the dining room door, said a cheery hello and explained that he was going to select the dishes. I would be getting the tasting menu treatment but without the headache of having to make the choices. Bring it on!

First up were seared scallops with cauliflower puree and truffle oil. A triumph. Scallops are one of my favourite foods, these were perfect. Next was loin of rabbit with creamed leeks and honey and wholegrain mustard. For some reason rabbit has lost its popularity on the dining tables of Britain, this would make people change their minds. Bite-size fillets, tasty and not too tender, sometimes it's good to have to chew just a little bit.

A palette-cleansing pina colada and popping candy was next up, make sure you try it when you visit Nuthurst Grange. If you remember the children's sweet Space Dust, a sort of candy that used to explode in your mouth, then imagine it in a quality, home-made ice cream with the tropical taste of pina colada, great fun and brilliant taste.

And still the food kept coming. Dover sole with crab on crushed potatoes served with baby vegetables and Vermouth veloute was followed by Cornish lamb, ratatouille and a cassoulet of beans. I'm not a fan or ratatouille as a rule but this one was small and special, all crammed into a baby red pepper, another winner from Stuart.

By now I was starting to fill up and I'm sure there was something else to eat before I was presented with a cherry crme brulee, light as clouds but full of flavour. And finally dessert, green apple souffl with toffee apples and apple pie ice cream, a masterpiece! The toffee apples, small balls of apple not full-sized one I hasten to add, were coated in a beautiful crispy toffee while the souffl and ice cream were delicious.

So, over coffee and petit fours, all homemade and difficult to refuse despite the fact that I was, by now, bursting my belt, I finally got to chat with Stuart about his luncheon menu.

"We are really trying to promote our lunches, I'm very proud of them and I want them out there amongst crowds of diners," he says with a smile. "The tasting menu might look a little expensive at first glance but once you realise what you get it is actually very well priced indeed. I had a similar sort of meal in a good London restaurant and it cost 240 for two people.

"I'm not saying people will pop in on a daily basis but if they are looking for something special, to impress a loved one or a business client, then this is the place.

"I also want to attract some of the luncheon clubs around the county, groups that are looking to give their event or gathering that little bit extra."

Stuart's enthusiasm is infectious but even I had to hurt his feelings when he offered me my third petit four. Thoughts of Mr Creosote from Monty Python's film The Meaning of Life flashed through my mind as I held it between thumb and forefinger before reluctantly placing it back on its dish.

In case you didn't know, Mr Creosote was, after an exceedingly large meal, tempted by a final "wafer thin mint." The result? He exploded!

As I left the four businessmen were discussing lunch much more than business. It was obviously the first time they had lunched at Nuthurst but, judging by their remarks, it certainly wouldn't be the last.

I, on the other hand, had business elsewhere. My third job of the day was certainly going to have to be a good one if it was to match either of the first two!

Have you had a great lunch somewhere recently? Chicken and chips, soup, and a sandwich or the full five-course treatment. If you know somewhere serving great lunchtime food let me know and I'll give it a try. Email me at or give me a ring on 0845 270 4801.

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