“ Address: Grosvenor Pulford Hotel & Spa / Wrexham Road / Pulford / Chester / CH4 9DG „
Nelson's Bar is situated within The Grosvenor Arms Pulford Hotel, a beautiful sandstone manor house set back from the main Wrexham Road in Pulford, Chester. Not to be confused with Ciro's Brasserie, the alternative eatery within the hotel and which, as can be seen from one of my previous reviews, I would not personally recommend, Nelson's Bar is a very relaxed, informal restaurant which serves a wide variety of lovely food, and at the same time, is not overly expensive.
My last visit to Nelson's Bar was just a couple of months ago when we were invited out for lunch to celebrate my auntie's birthday. We are a fairly informal, laid back lot and for this kind of get together, we always look out for a restaurant with good food and a nice atmosphere, yet one where we can chill out without having to worry whether my four year old is going to drop a chip on the table!
It is perfectly acceptable to just 'drop in for a bite to eat' if you are passing, but if you wish to eat at the busy periods such as lunchtime, especially on a Saturday or Sunday, it is always advisable to telephone and book a table. This is especially important if you want to book for a number of people, as the restaurant does get full during the weekend. I would add that, when booking a table, you do need to clarify the restaurant in which you wish to eat. As the hotel hosts two restaurants, namely Ciro's Brasserie and Nelson's Bar, I have found out from experience that the staff sometimes fail to ask where you would like your table, and on a recent visit when we had expected to eat in Nelson's Bar, we had been booked into Ciro's Brasserie, not an experience I wish to repeat.
As I mentioned at the start of the review, the hotel is a beautiful sandstone building, but Nelson's Bar has its own entrance via a huge wooden door at the front of the building. (This can just be seen on the photo at underneath this review). The first thing I noticed as we walked through the door was the beautiful tiled porchway, which contained a set of double doors that led straight into Nelson's Bar.
As we entered the restaurant, the bar itself, which ran almost the entire length of what was quite a large room, was situated directly in front of us and I did feel that this was a good layout insofar as making customers feel welcome was concerned. There is nothing worse than going into a place and having to wander around trying to find someone to let them know you have booked a table. Here, you simply inform any of the attendants behind the bar of your booking and they will locate your table for you. I would add at this point that this is very much a restaurant with a bar in it, rather than a bar with a few tables dotted about, and the bar attendants are all very smartly dressed in shirts, ties and waistcoats.
Anyone who pays particular attention to detail will notice that the dining area is designed to look like the interior of a boat (supposedly Nelson's) with the beamed ceiling and wooden panels. The decor itself has a very homely feel to it. The dark wooden tables and huge leather sofas and chairs really add to the atmosphere, and the only thing that seemed to missing was an open log fire - unless they did actually have one of these and it was hidden round the corner, I could not see one.
As we sat down at our table, I noticed that the menus were already there waiting for us and, after about five minutes, a very pleasant young waiter came to enquire whether we were ready to order our food. Despite the fact that we were on the run up to Christmas and the restaurant was fairly busy, I was very impressed by how quickly our food was brought to us. There were seven people in our party, and we probably waited no longer than 10-15 minutes for our food to arrive.
Once we had all finished our main course, (nobody chose to have a starter because we had heard how good the puddings were!) our waiter came to clear our plates and immediately took our orders for dessert.
It was very encouraging to be eating in a restaurant where we were made to feel like we were being looked after at all times, and to actually have speedy service without the sense of being rushed.
The waiter that was allocated to our table was a young gentleman who seemed to develop a good rapport with my four year old son, Matthew. As usual, Matthew was asking where his pudding was, and this young man obviously heard him because he went off to bring a bowl of ice-cream ahead of the rest of our orders. This went down very well with Matthew, and they started a game of high-fives which created a lot of amusement for the adjacent customers! In this kind of establishment, I think it is important to have staff with a sense of humour who can interact with younger people, especially four year olds who can't survive without their ice-cream!
We were finally offered tea or coffee to end the meal, which we politely declined because we were all just too full!
~~~AND NOW FOR THE IMPORTANT BIT...THE FOOD!~~~
Quite simply, the food was wonderful. It was very clear that everything was home-made, even down to the chips. Now then, the chips, this is where my one and only complaint comes in. They were brought to the table ALREADY SALTED!
This, in my opinion, is really bad. Personally, I always have to put salt on my chips. It's tradition. However, I know that many people don't like salt on chips, and more importantly, some people are unable to eat salt in large quantities for health reasons. We are always hearing about the dangers of eating too much salt and how bad it is for your health, so I certainly don't think that a restaurant should pre-salt your chips.
However, despite the chip issue, I could not complain about any other aspect of the food. Although I do like meat, I am a bit of a fish addict so opted for the beer battered haddock and chips (salted!) According to the menu, this was supposed to come with mushy peas which I really dislike, so they were quite happy to let me have garden peas instead. Two members of our party had the Grosvenor Burger (an 8oz beefburger) and chips (yep, salted again!) and someone else had the Mushroom Tagliatelle. Everything was cooked beautifully so we could not wait to see what we could have for dessert. I chose the Apple and Winter Fruit Crumble with custard. Very tasty, but also very filling after fish and chips, which is another reason why I declined a coffee! Matthew had a child's portion of fish, chips and peas. As far as the children's menu was concerned, I was very impressed by the fact that they have a special deal where you pay £7.95 for a two course meal. There was a separate offer where you can pay £9.95 for a three course meal. The choice of children's food was good too, with 2 starters, 5 main courses and a choice of ice-cream for dessert.
Although I wasn't in charge of paying the bill (yippee) I did manage to listen in as to what the final amount came to (naughty me). The food we chose comprised:
Child's meal deal
2 x Grosvenor Burgers
2 x Beer Battered Haddock & Chips
1 x Mushroom Tagliatelle
1 x Chicken & Mushroom Pie
3 x Ice-cream (adult)
2 x Fruit Crumble
1 x Creme Brulee
The total came to £105.00, exclusive of drinks which are ordered at the bar.
Meals are served between 12 noon and 10.00 pm daily.
Nelson's Bar, Grosvenor Arms Pulford Hotel, Wrexham Road, Chester
Reservations: 01244 570560
~~~WOULD I RECOMMEND?~~~
Most definitely. I was thoroughly impressed with Nelson's Bar. The standard of service, quality of food and overall ambience of the place would certainly encourage me to go back there again. Obviously, the one downfall was the fact that the chips came ready salted, and I would never have expected this to be normal practice in a restaurant. If I was being cynical, I might have said that it was a ploy to make their customers thirsty, therefore encouraging them to spend more at the bar to quench that thirst, but in all honestly, I don't think this was the case at all. I imagine if you are already aware of the way they serve the chips, you can always request no salt when you order your food.
So all in all, this is a lovely place to enjoy a nice, relaxed meal and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.
Thanks for reading.
(also on Ciao by me, matthewsmum)
Located close to the historic city centre of Chester.