Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Grand Hotel

In splendid isolation at 333 Burnley St. Richmond The (not so) Grand Hotel continues to catch the eye of restaurant reviewers. Following a rave review of Stephen Downes and a more rational but still very good one a few weeks later by John Lethlean it became necessary to reserve a table weeks ahead. Even Gourmet Traveler’s restaurant guide has included it for the last couple of years and the AGF has given it one hat since 2006. Not bad for a run down pub.
From the outside I thought I’d come to the wrong place. The paint was peeling off the walls and if not for the sign indicating that it was open it looked closed.

Entry to the dining room is through a dimly lit shabby bar so it is a surprise to see this carpeted bright room with it’s’ double linen table cloths and napkins.
Décor is, to say the least, basic.
So it must be the food.
We started with the roast duck. Half a bird, extremely succulent, on a little, indeed very little, cabbage with a sprinkling of spatzelle noodles in a loose jus was an excellent dish although the jus fell away from the duck taking most of its’ taste with it. Although I had ordered rabbit the waiter arrived with two serves of duck. He handled this embarrassing hiccup with aplomb and offered apologetic and a
glass of wine while I waited. Both waiters had the odd appearance of players in an old French movie with their long and plaited hair. The rabbit casserole was worth waiting for. Served with fettuccini, parmesan and olives it was in a very tasty sauce enhanced by the addition of some chicken liver. The famous Italian donuts with slices of orange and filled with pistachio ice cream was as good as its’ reputation. Photo here after it 1/3rd eaten!No longer quite as cheap as it used to be entrees $15 - $18 most mains are a little over $30 with sides about $6. Desserts are $10 – 12.
Wine by the glass $8 upwards are also a little dearer than usual.
The Grand is very dilapidated with paint peeling of the walls. A rather dull mural on one wall does nothing to inspire. It has been described as shabby-chic but here I can’t tell the difference between that and shabby. The food is far and away the best thing about the place and I will happily return to try more of their food but it hardly compares to my vision of a one hat restaurant.
Score 13.5/20

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