The Vine Hotel, Skegness
How glorious to be travelling out to the coast bathed in summer sunshine for this month’s dining out review.
The Vine Hotel is probably the oldest secular building in the town with parts of the building dating back to 1770. The hotel is located just one mile away from the beaten path of the promenade but nestled in extensive grounds and gardens towards the natural attractions of Gibraltar Point and Seacroft Golf Course. Alfred Lord Tennyson appreciated the hotel as far back as 1855 when he purportedly penned ‘Come into the Garden, Maud’ under an elm tree, since felled, in the gardens.
The Vine Hotel was bought by husband and wife, John and Maria Biddall, who live locally, just over a year ago and they are well on the way to completely renovating the public rooms and accommodation to provide boutique style, individually designed interiors while still maintaining the traditional cosy bars and friendly service of a family operated business.
The Gingerlily Restaurant was our destination for supper and we settled at our table, beautifully laid with crisp white linen, sparkling glassware and cutlery. A wedding reception was being held in the function room at the back of the hotel which accounted for the almost full to capacity car park. The thought did go through my head that this would be a test for any kitchen and I wondered how service would be affected on this very busy evening.
Chef Anthony Greenland has used his considerable culinary skills to offer a bistro style menu which includes familiar favourites such as battered, fresh fish and hand cut chips, as well as classic steaks or fine dining choices. This suits, very well, the mix of booked and casual diners which the hotel attracts and this evening was no exception with tables already being served despite our own early arrival. I was joined by my friend Louise for the evening and she chose a smoked haddock Scotch egg served with a mild curry mayonnaise for her starter. I went for prawn cocktail served with Bloody Mary sauce, fennel shards and a herb bread crisp. Louise thoroughly enjoyed the combination of flavours of the kedgeree inspired Scotch egg. With plump prawns, the crunch of the fennel and the delicate crisp, my prawn cocktail was certainly a satisfying, twenty-first-century version of the ’70s classic, although I would have liked even more zing to the sauce.
For our main courses Louise chose the chicken parmigiana served with mixed salad and hand cut chips, while I had one of the Asian inspired fusion dishes; a prawn Thai green curry served with coconut milk rice and crackers. Hot, but not enough to destroy all other flavours in the dish, or my taste buds, my curry was thoroughly delicious while Louise was intrigued by the savoury sweetness of the sauce on her dish. We had a chance to ask Anthony his secret when he came to talk to us at our table.
No real secret, he explained, just good quality ingredients and fresh herbs. Locally sourced ingredients have been a big priority for Anthony and he is proud to use locally grown vegetables and reared meats as well as promoting local cheeses on the menu.
The wedding party was still in full swing and yet waiting staff and kitchen had not missed a beat in their service to us. We took a break for a few moments to let our main courses settle and catch up with a group of diners who had just arrived, asking them about the progress of Andy Murray’s Wimbledon match. So far so good, so we settled down to choose desserts.
All homemade, the desserts on the menu were all very tempting. Louise chose a, not just mouthwatering, but stunningly presented, chocolate truffle cake with honeycomb and mango sorbet while I had a slice of a light and delicate egg custard tart served with berry coulis and a miniature rhubarb crumble. What a crescendo to our meal.
The hotel is able to offer a good selection of reasonably priced wines to accompany your meal and for special celebrations there is, of course, champagne or sparkling wines to raise a toast.
It was still a warm evening and we finished our meal with coffee and then went to explore the Oak and Tennyson Bars where you can enjoy a drink or a bar meal in less formal surroundings.
The Vine Hotel seemed to be still casting its romantic spell, as the wedding celebrations looked set to continue long after we departed.