Food + Drink

The Grill, Crawley

No longer the domain of weary travellers and business executives, former ‘airport hotel restaurants’ are undergoing a revolution, fast establishing themselves as dining destinations in their own right. Leading the way is The Grill, Crawley. 

scallops with anise carrot puree

The Grill restaurant is primely situated in the heart of Crawley town centre within the award-winning Arora Hotel and the contemporary design of the hotel is instantly impressive with sleek white lines, plenty of glass, fountains at the entrance and an impressive atrium that’s home to a four-storey waterfall.

We headed straight for The Grill, Crawley’s only AA Rosette restaurant. Passionately nurtured by head chef, Tony Staples over the last seven years, it’s clear on talking to him that he’s determined to bring only the best to the plate here in West Sussex. He’s scaled back the menu, refined presentation, and is driven by bringing only fresh, quality ingredients to the pass – a drive that resulted in the restaurant holding onto AA rosette status for the past three years.

Taking our seats at a central table for four, we were presented with the menu and with our choice of bread from the freshly baked loaves that are made daily by the committed kitchen team – the Gruyere and chorizo loaf was an instant hit.

It wasn’t long before our chosen starters from the seasonal menu arrived. The melon for our youngest diner was creatively presented in a face pattern, which was much appreciated, and the carrot and cumin soup of the day was a plentiful portion for our eldest daughter; my pan roasted scallops were perfectly seared and served with a spiced anise carrot puree and pickled carrot; while my guest’s tuna dish proved to be the star of the course, the beautifully presented, seared loin came with a unique twist on a niçoise salad and tasted even better than it looked.

cod loins with Dauphin potatoes and pancetta twirls

We were eager for more and were not disappointed when our main course appeared, the 28-day aged Surrey farm fillet steak for my guest was, as anticipated, grilled to perfection, served with a lovely caramelised onion and confit plum tomato relish and a huge stack of triple cooked chips, while my pan-seared chicken breast was again presented well with baby leeks, turnips, crisp pancetta and fondant potato alongside a rich chicken jus. Generous children’s portions arrived in the form of a grilled chicken breast, heaving brioche burger, salad and crispy fries happily and were happily devoured.

We could just about make room for dessert; the girls polished off their chocolate brownies and ice cream without any complaint, while my guest worked his way through a rich, molten chocolate fondant with had just the right balance of bitter and sweet. My individual tarte tatin was the winner overall though – crisp flakey pastry, soft caramelised apples, a rich sweet butterscotch sauce, fresh blackberries and ice cream; it was attacked on all sides, but I did my best to protect as much as I could for myself!

lemon curd parfait

The Grill more than delivered. It’s formal, but relaxed, dining room provided the right level of comfort and ambience with a tempting menu too, and, most importantly, we were served dish upon dish of fresh, beautifully presented and really tasty food – a winner all round.

The Grill, Arora Hotel Crawley Gatwick, Southgate Avenue, Southgate, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 6LW

01293 530000

Twitter @aroragatwick

Insta – @aroragatwick

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