Somehow The Lyttelton Arms in Hagley seems familiar to me even though I’m certain I’ve never visited it before. What makes things stranger still, considering that I have absolutely no ties to the area, is that I seem to know all about how nice a place it is. A lot of people must have gushed about it over the years and I must have filed said opinion polls in my cerebral black hole, labelled under “Do visit if and when time affords.” Clearly the reputation of The Lyttelton precedes it.
Well, guess what? As ever, it’s a case of “too late Taylor!”, because it’s all change now at the local landmark eaterie, which prides itself on both its rural setting and easy access to neighbouring Stourbridge, Clent and Bromsgrove. But – for once – change is not a bad thing. The Lyttelton has just undergone a significant investment that has given the much-loved eating and drinking spot a spectacular new look and ultra-glamorous feel.
When asked if I’d like to attend the very swanky pre, re-opening press event my answer is a resounding “yes!” Partly, if I’m honest, to see exactly what all the fuss is about, but mostly because I’m a horrible foodie who can scarcely turn down the offer of a free biscuit with my cuppa let alone a complimentary three-course meal, plus drinks.
As well as the ultra-modern and sumptuous makeover (think: trendy London nightspot meets posh-pub), there’s also a brand-new menu, which aims to deliver a social dining and drinking experience that is second to none, featuring fresh flavours and ingredients inspired by modern world food trends. Half of my party of four sit in a normal adversarial position (adversarial, because my pal and I each wager on ourselves to put down the greater volume of free ale) but not on hard-back dining chairs, instead they lounge on a low-backed sofa, like Sybarites.
We all enjoy the new decor which is ‘based around the concept of Champagne bubbles and the decadent colour of peacock feathers’. I don’t know about all that but I do see: bubbled glass fittings, contemporary satin brass, elegant curved seating and a stunning new feature bar sitting at the heart of the building, boasting a ceramic and jewel-finish. Added to this are luxury drapes, plush upholstered booths and marble topped Champagne tables.
From where I’m sitting the new-look looks exactly like a premium destination for a memorable night out should. In many ways the place is best described as a ‘post-pub, pub’. This summer it will be introducing regular live music as well as a host of events and parties (three private meeting spaces, a media centre, and a private dining room make The Lyttelton perfect for parties, networking etc), but don’t expect traditional pub fare nasties, like Backgammon and stale sarnies, because these events will be in partnership with a range of premium brands – so expect glitz and glamour.
A chat to manager Liz, who has over 13 years’ hospitality experience, tells us that people have been turning up all week long, itching to get inside. “We’re not officially
open yet” is the familiar refrain. Of course, now the place is open, dear readers: we don’t like to tease.
So, whether you fancy something from the grill; such as four-bone free-range New Zealand lamb rack, seabass fillet and charred octopus or expertly-aged steaks, there’s something to suit all tastes. A range of exciting new small plates, designed for sharing, make the perfect start to the dining experience; with dishes such as sashimi grade tuna tartare, miso aubergine bao buns and seared, wild, Atlantic scallops with lobster and crab bonbons.
We tuck into a couple of said platters and all of us have nothing but concerted praise for the offerings. A standout favourite of mine is the ‘Grilled Lamb Kofka with smoky creamed corn and goats’ cheese’. Then it’s onto a plate from the main course each (I’m a sucker for ‘Fillet Steak with Peppercorn sauce’: it does not disappoint), followed by dessert (“When did I taste a better Crème Brulee?” is a question I nurse later during the taxi ride home).
We all agree that despite hosting a room full of hungry Media-types, the staff excel. Another point of consensus is that the pricing seems spot-on. After we leave, I’m certain that the Kitchen – led by Head Chef, Carl Grieves – is packing some major talent. And it needs every drop of it because The Lyttelton has laid down a formidable gauntlet.
The restaurant will serve Friday and Saturday-only specials of freshly-shucked rock oysters and grill sharing boards, such as Chateaubriand or trio of pork. Premium wines such as Premier Cru Burgundy and Rioja Gran Reserva, will now be available by the glass. A new cocktail menu has also been developed by the team. And it will still offer fantastic value too with its two-course Monday-Friday lunch menu from £14.95.
Sure to be a hit with both regulars and rookie visitors alike, The Lyttelton Arms is a singular experience.
The Lyttelton Arms, Bromsgrove Road, Hagley, DY9 9LJ www.thelytteltonarms.co.uk