Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Groes Inn: New Owners, Same Principles

The Groes Inn, Conwy. Barney Approved.

Since learning that the Groes Inn – an astounding Hotel in Conwy and an excellent example of the amazing customer service, excellent food and luxurious atmosphere North Wales hotels have to offer - has been purchased by family brewery business JW Lees, we couldn’t resist taking a sneak peek at the way that the Groes Inn is running nowadays.

We admit freely that we were a little concerned about the fact that the Groes Inn happened to have been purchased. In our minds, we envisioned the beautiful traditional interiors being gutted, the vines removed from the outside of the building and a trendy wine bar to have been standing in it’s place.

That’s not the Groes Inn whatsoever, and we’re delighted to say that it’s still not the case. We were delighted to arrive to the same building as ever (where our 4 year old Wheaten Terrier, Barney, was as welcome as he’s ever been, and settled beside the fire as if nothing had happened at all!)  

We found that their ale selection is still rather extensive, and that they’re indeed doing an excellent selection of seasonal food. We hunkered down in their charming bar, and got to sampling the Groes Inn’s brand new food. Favourites such as Bury black pudding with streaky bacon and a poached egg, with a round of toast were still on the menu. We blinked, and indeed ordered one.

It tasted delicious, the flavour of the black pudding and the bacon were strong and complimented each other perfectly, and the poached egg was done to perfection. We had to ask. At this point, we absolutely had to ask about the chef. How could someone be replaced and food of the same quality be brought out? Did this mean that the Groes Inn had a nefarious secret such as serving frozen and reheated faire, and that they had done so all along?

It was nothing of the sort.

The bacon and black pudding didn’t taste frozen, for a start - I was duly informed by my co-diner. And I had to concede that. There's absolutely no way anything as delicious and flavoursome as that could possibly be ready-made and churned out.
Thankfully, we were (helpfully) informed by the serving staff that the Groes Inn had retained all of it’s staff since the purchase, and that not a single soul had been cast aside. In short, it was the same chef now that prepared our food as had way back when we visited this gorgeous inn in the heat of August. The staff, as well, were very keen to keep the old – as evidenced by the suggestion of doggie beer for Barney, who no doubt was now starting to wonder where his was... as he enjoyed it so much last time.

We asked if anything in particular was different since the purchase - after all the Groes Inn was still very dog friendly, still had the same locals, the same charm, the same staff... something had to have changed, surely. We found that JW Lees had made a small changes to the menu. We decided to try something new, and elected for a battered fillet of haddock in JW Lees ale batter with tartar sauce, thick cut chips (which, to be fair, were more like slabs) and mushy peas.

My co-diner remarked that he'd seen something similar in the form of a Groes Ale batter on something before, on his very many visits to the Groes Inn. The JW Lees batter was, in a word... Astounding. Everything was perfect, beyond so, and while I'm quite guilty of giving Barney quite a few handfuls under the table, I was selfish. Poor Barney had to nurse his doggie beer. We found the portion sizes to be more than generous, in addition. While in the past the only part of the Groes Inn viewed as not stellar was portion size, we’re sure that JW Lees’ portions will be enough to satisfy even the hungriest of their (no doubt) very many patrons from here on out.  

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