And what an environment it is – Gravetye’s renowned grounds were designed by pioneering Victorian landscaper William Robinson, whose legacy lives on. The kitchen has access to a one-acre walled produce garden, the bounty of which is integral to George Blogg’s creations. There are only a few restaurants in the UK able to exploit gardens such as this: the chef cites L’Enclume, Le Manoir and Gleneagles.
“Utilising the gardens, foraged produce, smokehouse techniques and sourcing the best ingredients through superb local suppliers are in line with my principles,” the chef told The Caterer, so dining at Gravetye focuses on those four elements. The AA writes about the cuisine’s “modernist style [that explores] novel combinations and textural contrasts” and applauds the vegan menu – an inspired use of the goods to hand. The Michelin Guide 2015 highlights the “accomplished cooking” and “innovative” desserts. In 2015, under George Blogg’s direction, the restaurant was awarded three AA rosettes; he’s also won the Chef to Watch Editors’ Award from the Good Food Guide 2014, and an Acorn Award in 2011, which recognises rising stars in the hospitality industry.
George Blogg’s food is classical, yet rather than redefine dishes by deconstruction, he works to refine the ingredients that grace his plates. His Glazed ‘tart’ of pig cheeks and penny bun, roasted celeriac, pear sorbet and wild cress, and Raspberry soufflé with buttermilk ice cream and raspberry and mint coulis are prime examples of how he upraises simple ingredients. This is classy-looking fare so it comes as a surprise when the chef elucidates that, essentially for him, substance takes priority over style: “[At Gravetye] we serve hotel guests and you want something that people can enjoy and think is lovely, and tastes amazing, and presentation should be after. First is flavour, second is texture and then… the presentation is in a style that looks pleasing but it is almost an afterthought.” After observing his beautiful dishes, we might have to disagree with him.