Food review: The Grill Inn, Drayton Manor Park, near Tamworth, Staffs – 3/5 stars
After the thrills of a day at Drayton Manor Park, Emily Bridgewater takes the family for a slap-up meal at The Grill Inn. Here’s what she thought . . .
There’s a lot to be said for great customer service, most notable is that it’s rarer than a Frenchman’s steak.
How many times do we put up with sullen staff displaying lackadaisical service? Too often. It’s no wonder the high street is going to pot when shopping and dining experiences are spoiled by poor customer service.
“Have you got this in my size in the stock room?” you innocently ask hoping someone wearing a ‘here to help’ badge might just do as promised. The all-too regular response is an insipid shoulder shrug without any effort to investigate further.
A request for a table for four is usually met with an unenthusiastic wave to a vacant spot followed by a game of ‘catch the menus’ as they’re tossed in your direction. And you’ll be lucky if they’ve been wiped clean.
Bad service however, is not a problem at The Grill Inn at Drayton Manor. Far from it; we enjoyed some of the best customer service we’ve had in ages.
We were warmly welcomed by the front of house staff and allocated a waitress – Kim – who very adeptly took care of us for the rest of the evening.
A pub-style family restaurant situated outside the entrance to the Staffordshire theme park, The Grill Inn is open to the general public as well as guests of the attraction.
When we visited, during a Saturday night stay at the neighbouring Drayton Manor Hotel, we found it to be busy with a lively atmosphere.
Kim was quick with the drinks order – blackcurrant and soda for me, Pepsi Max for him and apple juice for the little one. Quite the wild night.
We perused the menu which includes pub classics like fish and chips and steaks as well as offering some different dishes such as Cajun chorizo with parppardelle pasta, and Cuban black bean burrito. Main courses are priced around the £10-£15 mark, although the T-Bone steak with all the sides will set you back £25.
We were starving after a hectic day in the park so chose a sharing portions of nachos for starters. Kim diligently. asked whether we wanted our daughter’s main course to arrive at the same time as the starter so she didn’t have to wait. However, we knew she’d make a fair dent in the nachos so agreed her main course would arrive at the same time as ours.
A huge bowl of tortilla chips arrived loaded with cheese plus shop-bought guacamole, tomato salsa and sour cream. It was the type of dish you’d expect to be served by your teenage brother trying win brownie points; it was assembly food, but very tasty none the less. Licking our fingers as we polished off the mound of chips Kim returned to ask us if we wanted more drinks and whether we wanted a break before our main course. Her efforts in providing a good customer experience were faultless. We decided to plough on with our main courses, keen to return to the hotel for the children’s entertainment.
I chose the beef chilli burrito, while my other half went all out with the 8oz rump steak. Our little girl announced she wanted ‘sausages’ so we ordered the Stormforce 10 Sausages, with mash, gravy and peas, from the kids menu.
My burrito was tasty enough although was crying out for the piquancy of sour cream to cut through the richness and spiciness of the beef. It came with a generous side portion of disappointingly undercooked chips. They were, however, well seasoned. I couldn’t eat it all – that’ll serve me right for gorging on nachos.
My partner was happy with his steak; ordered medium rare, it actually arrived at the table as requested. So often a chef will cook steak as requested by the customer only for it to continue cooking with residual heat and arrive at the table over-done.
His accompanying chunky chips were considerably better than my skinny fries. They had a lovely crisp coating and a fluffy interior. He also enjoyed the side order of corn on the cob and crisp onion rings.
Our toddler whopped down her sausages and gravy but was less keen on the pile of mashed potato. The peas – being green – were pushed to one side so I rescued them to the safety of my own plate. She did eat a few of my chips though dipped in plenty of tomato ketchup.
Our waitress paid a polite visit to our table mid-meal to check that we were happy and offer more drinks, she was also quick to take away our empty plates once we’d finished.
Full but keen to try one of the tempting desserts we browsed the menu once again. Options include rocky road sundae, Grill Inn sundae and Mississippi mud pie, most priced around the £5 mark.
I couldn’t even entertain the idea of a pud but my other half and daughter decided to go for broke. He chose the unusual-sounding pineapple and coconut crumble, while our little girl was delighted at the offer of jelly and ice cream, which came as part of her children’s meal deal.
The portion of crumble could only be described as gargantuan and it took all of us to finish it. The coconut-spiked crumble topping was fairly good and had a granola-style consistency while the hot pineapple and cooling vanilla ice cream was a real treat.
The bill came in at £56 which included plenty of soft drinks for us all and seemed perfectly reasonable for the amount of food and quality of service.
And while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend The Grill Inn for culinary thrills, the exceptional customer service lifted the average to the sublime.