A special occasion deserves a special evening and so we recently celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary in Kenilworth. We began at The Kenilworth cocktail lounge and finished at the Michelin-starred Cross at Kenilworth.
The evening began with cocktails. A cocktail should be exciting like champagne and The Kenilworth understands that. The cocktail lounge is decked out with black leather and shiny surfaces. There are vintage tantaluses (should that be tantali?) and jazz era images around the place. The bar area is spectacular with a huge range of bottles. They also prepare some special ingredients of their own – reductions and syrups. There is music and the staff are very friendly and helpful. The cocktail menu is enormous – 70 currently – which is a slight reduction on the previous version. It is helpfully signposted with sections based on different ingredients and then a sweet/sour, rich/light map in the centrefold. I began with a Kenilworth Clover Club which definitely fitted in the sweet/sour quadrant. It had gin backed up by raspberry and rhubarb, There was a creamy egg topping and a wedge of what was described as sweet espuma – a wave of sweet candy that contrasted beautifully.
Just time for one more and so I had a King Kong – a different style of drink served in a spirit tumbler over a large block of ice. This was rum and banana with a port reduction and some walnut bitters. This came with a skewered piece of frozen banana, The overall impression was of a very rich sticky liqueur. I really like the Kenilworth. It feels like a nice place for a treat without being overly formal. It started our evening well.
We have been planning to visit the Cross at Kenilworth for over a year and we were waiting for the occasion. It has an excellent reputation which has resulted in it being awarded a coveted Michelin star. I wasn’t sure what to expect even though I have been past many times and looked through the window. The setting is an old high-ceilinged dining room with a more modern part attached containing a bar and an open kitchen. There is a nice area outside with seating too in the Summer. We were seated in the main dining room. On the walls are menus, some signed, from the restaurants where Chef Adam Bennett trained or worked as well as awards from the Bocuse D’Or which he has competed in representing the UK.
There is a tasting menu but we opted for the a la carte option. The menu offers five options for each course and it is very plain speaking, A dish entitled just Roast Cauliiflower contains smoked eel, sultanas and capers. It is intriguing and a little cryptic to have a dessert just called Raspberry…love it! The puddings are supposed to be excellent and so we skipped starters and went straight for the mains. At some point I would like to try the dish of ducks egg, white asparagus, Cumbrian ham and chicken veloute which is, of course, called Crispy Duck Egg.
My beef cheek was gorgeous. It was incredibly soft and full of flavour – served with a bone marrow sauce with beads of marrow amongst. The plate was dressed very prettily with mash and baby carrots and zingy globes of wine reduction. Our side of buttered cabbage was cooked to perfection.
And so to the inevitable Raspberry dessert. It was a very pretty plate of raspberry ice cream, a shard of nitrogen-treated raspberry ‘meringue’, an exquisite mousse sphere in a white chocolate oh-so-thin case, a crumb, some fresh raspberries and a high gloss jus. Lots of work but delicious and plenty of sharp raspberry as well as sweet.
I’d called in advance to ask whether they did anything special for our anniversary and they brought the petit fours on a plate with a Happy Anniversary message piped on it. It was a nice touch but even nicer was the attention to detail of our waitress spotting my wife was not at the table and disappearing with them until she returned.
We had a really nice meal and with a bottle of Zinfandel and tip it came to £140. I’ve eaten in a few Michelin starred restaurants and there is huge variety. There are some very grand and formal restaurants but there are also some really down to earth places celebrating good food. Lunch at the Cross is £30 for three courses.
We walked home arm-in-arm on a warm summer evening.