My sister, who’s lived in Australia for the last three/four years, neglected to mention they have a whole day to celebrate their country. Thankfully the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club in Meriden were on the ball and invited me to celebrate Australia Day with them, late last month.
Admittedly not the most obvious choice to pair up with our counterparts on the other side of the world, the tranquil Forest of Arden hotel is located just outside Meridan and plays host to weddings, conferences, golfers and those who like a nice spa day. It’s a hotel which clearly prides itself on its facilities and rightly so.
After a quick drink in the bar, which had plenty of seating but still had a nice cosy atmosphere, we headed for the restaurant. I can’t imagine Monday nights are the busiest for country hotels, but throughout the evening there was a steady flow of people. The main menu in the restaurant is modern British but with a sophisticated style. Ingredients, particularly meat, is locally sourced and it’s clear a lot of thought has gone into the menu. Given the number of returning guests, for golfing weekends or as a base for work, the restaurant prides itself on regularly refreshing its menu and offering some festive meals.
Although Andrew and I looked at the main menu, I’d been tempted down with the promise of kangaroo burgers and that’s what we had. Having never eaten kangaroo before I was surprised by the delicate, almost gamey taste. The pepper dressing that accompanied it balanced the meat perfectly and the seeded bun might not be the most exciting but was fresh and anything else would’ve overpowered the meat. The chips were light and crunchy, and the salad with a sweet mustard dressing gave it a nice kick.
For pudding, I went for one of my favourites; sticky toffee pudding. Forest of Arden’s version came with Irish cream ice cream nestled in a praline basket. To be honest I was a bit surprised the sticky toffee didn’t have a toffee sauce and I did miss it, but more out of familiarity. The ice cream had a lovely smoothness to it and a nice flavour that wasn’t too sickly. The praline basket was crunchy and nutty, and although I found it tricky to break with my spoon I think if I had been able to, it would’ve ruined some of the fun.
Hotel food might not be known to be the most exciting, so it was refreshing to visit a hotel restaurant which clearly aims to dispel this and offer guests something fresh, tasty and interesting. It has the benefits of being close to Birmingham International and NEC but nestled far enough away that it feels like a real getaway. If someone’s sending me to Coventry, I hope they only get as far as the Forest of Arden.
Disclaimer: I was invited down to the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club as their guest to try out their Australia day promotion in exchange for my honest opinions. Meridian isn’t in Birmingham, but it is in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull and that will do for me. Also, my sister claims that all the Australians she knows don’t eat kangaroo burgers on Australia Day and I think they’re missing out.