Featured Restaurant: The Glasshouse

23rd August 2019

The Grove, Chandler’s Cross WD3 4TG • 01923 807807

Reviewed by Jill Glenn

Despite its vastness, the newly refurbished and extended Glasshouse at The Grove, Chandlers Cross, manages to create an air of relaxed intimacy for diners. Clever use of partitioning, of high-backed chairs or bench seats, of round tables that encourage you to lean forward to confer with your fellow guests…

It all adds up to a vibe both sophisticated and secluded – your own little world, to which you return after foraging at the food stations for each course. The Glasshouse is, effectively, a self-service food court – but not as you know it. Definitely not as you know it. Yes, there’s everything here from Italian to Indian via a Robata Grill and a Stone Oven, but this is as unlike your average food hall as you could imagine. Navigate carefully, and you can create a really exquisite menu, much of it cooked in front of you, with any number of courses. Perfect for partners or families or groups with wildly differing tastes.

Our waiter, Arnold, who is charming and attentive, explains the rules… eat what you like, in the order that you like, and go back as many times as you like. Essentially, there are no rules.

We begin at the Crustacean Station, selecting a small glass of prawn cocktail (very dainty; a wonderfully clean flavour), and melt-in-the-mouth poached salmon, along with a couple of pieces of soft smoked mackerel. There is nowhere for a kitchen to hide with food as naked as this: it’s all about the quality of the ingredients. On this evidence, I’d say they’re shopping well.

More starters – from the Salad Bar – prove irresistible: juicy Heritage Tomatoes, Babaganoush (very smooth, with a spicy kick, and jewelled with pomegranates), a Celeriac Remoulade with a lovely fresh texture, and Beetroot with Goat’s Curd.

My guest heads off in the direction of the Live Tandoor Oven, returning with a plate piled high with Fenugreek & Ginger Chicken, Butternut Squash with cumin and turmeric and other mouth-thrilling spices, plus rice and raita, and a beautifully thin Garlic Naan Bread. She eats the lot. Nothing more to see here.

I, meanwhile, am at the Live Asian Noodle Soup Station, where chef takes a bowl of broth and invites me to choose what he should add to it: I opt for asparagus and tenderstem broccoli, tiny enoki mushrooms, some chicken and a couple of prawns. What would I like as a topping, he asks, indicating crispy onions, spring onions, grated carrot, chilli sambal, ginger sauce and garlic. What does he recommend? Everything, he says. Then I’ll have everything. And I do. My mouth is on fire – in a very good way. This is absolutely my sort of food.

We can’t ignore the Dessert Station, of course, where ridiculously ripe strawberries vie for attention with little guava cheesecakes (the only thing I don’t really enjoy: much too sweet) and Poire Hélène, in which a light chocolate mousse contrasts perfectly with the fresh taste of the pear: a marriage made in heaven. A peanut-chocolate concoction fills the mouth with warmth, and a flavour I can’t quite place, but which keeps me going back for more. The Crème Brûlée is very creamy.

This is the way to eat. Small plates. Lots of them. Job done.

LUNCH p/person: £42 (Mon-Fri) • £46 (Sat) • £62 (Sun/BH)
DINNER p/person: £49 (Mon-Fri) • £62 (Sat) • £49 (Sun/BH)
HOUSE WINE: £30.00

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