I’m a bit of a child when it comes to all things golf-related and get the giggles when I’m within 20 feet of a putting green. It must be a nervous thing, a bit like when you just have to cough as a minute’s silence begins.
So, when invited for an overnight stay at The Belfry by my thoughtful, but golf-mad husband, I approached it with some trepidation. He assured me he wasn’t taking the clubs and that this would be pure relaxation. Cruising up the driveway flanked by flags and immaculate lawns, The Belfry felt every inch the serious golfers’ paradise until Mr C pointed out Bel Air, the nightclub we’d be frequenting later. The foyer of the hotel was grand with a glamorous central bar that was already buzzing at 4pm. We checked in and hot-footed it to our room to change and join the party. Incidentally, our room overlooked the Brabazon’s 10th tee (world-class course) which was stunningly beautiful. We shunned the bar temporarily in favour of an alfresco tipple on an idyllic terrace to soak up the sun. Two G&Ts cost £27, but the setting and the gin (Bombay Sapphire) and tonic (Fever Tree) were spot on. I’m pretty sure they were doubles too.
There were a few choices for dinner to contemplate. A friendly, relaxed joint with a pub vibe called Sam’s Clubhouse; the fine dining glamour of the Ryder Grill and newly opened Italian restaurant Roccas. Mr C had eaten at the grill before and we didn’t fancy the pub, so we opted for Roccas. The restaurant had a different vibe. It was light, bright and simple with a pared down Scandi interior. The menu was succinct and focused which is always a good sign. A nice bottle of Gavi was promptly ordered. I’d never eaten calamari in England, so thought I’d give it a whirl. Served in a newspaper print with lemon and mayonnaise, the coating was crunchy and salty with a good thwack of pepper and the inside tender. I absolutely loved it. Mr C went for a simple tomato and mozzarella salad which was dreamy. The mozzarella was top drawer and so soft and creamy the middle of it was almost like burrata with tomatoes that were fresh, ripe and full of flavour. Add in basil and balsamic and it was properly good. We were impressed. The staff were impressive too achieving that rare perfect level of attentiveness.
We were pretty excited about the mains and rightly so. The meatballs packed a punch with a hit of chilli in a great tomato-y sauce with fusilli pasta. The pizza Caprina with goat’s cheese, rocket, oregano and tomato had a crisp, thin base ideal for me topped with a gorgeous combination of flavours. The restaurant was fairly quiet for a Saturday, but in fairness it had just opened. I’m sure once word gets out about the food it will be as bustling as the bar. We sneaked in a moreish vanilla panna cotta with two spoons before more drinks in the bar and onto the club. “I’m not sure people ordinarily go clubbing after a three-course meal,” is what I said to Mr C, but with a cocktail inside him (the gin bramble is gorgeous) there was no talking him down. We could hear much whooping as we got closer to the club. Inside, there was a fun vibe with dry ice aplenty and some serious shape throwing. The sun was almost coming up when we left Bel Air, so ‘pure relaxation’ it was not, but we’d belly laughed a lot and had a blast.