Review: Harry’s Place, Grantham

Blatant list-following: we only went to Harry’s Place because they got themselves into the top 10 of the annual Times 100 Best Restaurants in the UK list. And it was a unique and delightful experience, a lovely evening out, with some exceptional cooking. But I can see how your enjoyment could depend upon both you and your fellow diners.

The dining room is the front room of a Georgian house on Great Gonerby high street, and so it has just three tables and ten covers. Yes, only ten. And the menus are hand-written and they don’t have a website! The decor is comfortable and informal, deep red walls and rustic tables with pale green tops. This is a family business, just Caroline as front of house and Harry Hallam in the kitchen. And they’ve been here since 1988, a time when my idea of dining out was a birthday trip to the Beefeater with my parents. So, with Caroline’s serene attention and only a handful of other diners whose conversations you cannot help but overhear, you’ll have to decide whether it’s for you. For ourselves, we felt very much at home, and on a mid-week in cold February we had the room to ourselves by the time starters were cleared.

Oh, short menu too: two starters and two mains, so if you have dietary requirements then phone ahead! We both chose the scallops to start, and the lamb to follow. The scallops were magnificent specimens from Orkney, thoroughly caramelised on the outside but very toothsomely translucent within. They were dressed with a thoroughly delicious Thai-inspired concoction and garnished with (from memory) tomato and chive. Corals intact, of course. These were simply some of the best scallops I’ve ever enjoyed.

The lamb was roast loin, the delicate slices a beautiful pink inside and packed with flavour. Not half as packed as the gloriously boozy armagnac gravy, though. This had a deep, rich, sweet flavour with a shameless kick of booze on the end. I can count the number of sauces I’ve enjoyed this much on my fingers. On the side were cracking roast spuds and a delicate little salad of all my favourite veggies.

Puds were good, though low key after the great courses preceding. Maureen had a cherry brandy jelly absolutely brimming with great flavour and balanced with a clean cream. I got a big scoop of some very rhubarb-y rhubarb ice cream on a tangy puree. Comfortably full after all that, we chatted a while with our hosts while waiting for the taxi.

Three courses is somewhere just over £60 at Harry’s, and it’s exceptional cooking in a very personal setting. The wine list is short, but the four glasses we enjoyed were all excellent selections, including a luverly Sauternes. Now I just need to find another excuse to visit Grantham… any suggestions?

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