[Disclosure: I’ve been invited to the Draycote Hotel twice for the purposes of this blog – once to review the Sunday lunch and once for an afternoon tea]
Say ‘Draycote Hotel’ to anyone who lives in or around Rugby and the first thing that will come into their head is ‘wedding’. Or maybe ‘golf’. Or maybe both.
What they probably won’t instantly think about is food. Well, maybe a sandwich after a round of golf, or a set menu at the aforementioned weddings they might have been to. But they won’t think about popping to the hotel and golf club just outside Rugby for a Sunday lunch or an afternoon tea. Or even breakfast.
Well, think again Rugby pals. Because you can get involved in all of the above at the Draycote, and it ain’t half bad. When we visit on a Sunday afternoon it’s pretty busy – there’s a family on a big table in the restaurant area, a group of ladies gathering on the comfy seats in the bar area ahead of their lunch, golfers in the bar having a quick drink.
There’s also clearly a ‘do’ somewhere, possibly in the private dining room that’s just opposite the main function suite where we’ve been to weddings before. It’s a busy old place, without being too frenetic.
However busy it is, it’s not too busy for manager Ian – dubbed the lovely Ian for good reason – who seems to be everywhere all at once, greeting customers as they arrive, sorting out the ladies so they can all enjoy a sit down before their Sunday lunch, checking on other staff.
He even finds time to give us a guided tour, which is handy because it means I get to see the huge screen outdoors, along with gazebo-style covering, where apparently we can watch all the best sporting events over the summer while enjoying something to eat and a few drinks. Apparently there might even be some barbecues and outdoor events.
And while I’m long past the lovely-sounding option to have my wedding photos on the golf course, finding out that you can even enjoy a little walk (only on certain routes – make sure you ask staff first) either before or after a visit to the restaurant. And why wouldn’t you, with grounds like this.
Enough of that. You’re here for the food. The Sunday lunch menu is a relatively classic affair. Simple, classic starters, various roasts, a few additional mains, and some crowd-pleasing desserts.
It’s one course for £18.95, two for £24.95 and three for £29.95. Apparently the option to have as many or as few courses as you like appeals to people who don’t want a three-course feast. Which isn’t us, though we do have to admit defeat and share a dessert eventually.
My chicken caesar salad is a fairly decent start. The chicken is fairly finely diced which throws me at first, but there’s enough of it, though I wouldn’t have minded more parmesan. The whole thing has been tossed in the caesar dressing so there’s no dressing-less bits, which makes a change from some places where a quarter of your leaves are drowning in the stuff and the rest is dry.
Jamie’s starter beats mine. Another spring-suited dish, a large disc of goat’s cheese is grilled and seasoned with sea salt. It’s served with a waldorf salad that compliments it well, the bitterness of radicchio contrasting with the creaminess of the cheese, while walnut and apple add freshness and crunch.
For main Jamie is straight at the dry-aged sirloin of beef, which is billed as being served with horseradish creme fraiche. I’m torn between sage roast loin of pork with baked apple compote and rosemary roast leg of lamb so Ian yet again lives up to his lovely moniker by telling me I can have a bit of both.
The plates come piled high, both complete with big fat Yorkshire puddings that i’m 100% sure Aunt Bessie had nothing to do with. The meat is thickly sliced, piled on top of crispy roast potatoes and roast carrots and parsnips and coated in a viscous, rich red wine gravy.
Jamie had asked for pink beef if possible – it’s far from that, but while it’s cooked more than he’d ever do himself or order, is still both tasty and tender. My lamb is pretty good but it’s the pork that wins the day. Tender, with the slightly earthy notes of sage disncernible without being overpowering.
It turns out the sauces are already on the table rather than coming on the plates as the menu might suggest. But that is fine by this condiment-lover, who enjoys piling on as much mint sauce, apple sauce and horseradish as I like. A bowl of vegetables arrives too, cooked decently so they still have texture, and lightly buttered for a bit of added flavour.
A side of cauliflower cheese we ordered at the last minute appears to have caused a bit of confusion and never actually arrives, but the one I see arrive on the table next door looks pretty good. Overall, it’s a substantial plate of food, with far more good points than bad, and I’d come back for the Yorkshires and gravy alone. In fact the gang of ladies seem to have managed to get an extra boat of the stuff delivered to their table – seasoned professionals clearly.
We don’t need dessert but decide that Sunday roast has to be followed by crumble, and Ian assures us the apple and pear version here is good, so w opt to share. He’s right. It’s better than most I’ve had in pubs and restaurants.
Sweet fruit, still with a bit of bite rather than a gluey mess. Crumbly, sweet, crumble and decent custard. A scoop of vanilla ice cream arrives too – Ian advises us that eating crumble without ice cream is an error, and after trying it I’m inclined to go with him on that one. The crumble we weren’t sure we wanted is soon gone and we now understand why people apparently often retire back to the ‘comfy’ seats in the bar area for a sit down after their lunch.
If Sunday roast isn’t your thing but afternoon is, then I’ve checked that out for you too. At Draycote they start at £16.95, with the option to add fizz, as well as savoury and vegan options.
When we visit it’s a fairly classic afternoon tea – sandwiches, scones and a selection of cakes. The sandwiches are pretty good. A decent egg mayo tops the list, followed by a chicken caesar wrap and a cucumber sandwich that I’m sure appeals to some people, but never quite gets my juices flowing.
Scones are pretty good, though the plain tops a fruit version. Scones are so often overlooked, but having been left mighty disappointed by the ones we had at afternoon tea at The Ritz, I’m happy to say a bit more attention has been paid to these.
There’s an array of cakes and sweet treats – some better than others, but all good enough to want to take the leftovers home. This isn’t too much trouble for the staff, as is nothing else. On both visits they’re friendly, helpful and attentive, and make for an enjoyable experience.
Rugby has never had the volume of places to eat out compared to some places, yet we forget some that are right on our doorstep. Draycote has plenty of bonuses, from space for families and groups to a decent, fairly reasonably priced food offering given the setting, lovely grounds, and friendly staff (look out for lovely Ian when you go!).
So next time someone mentions Draycote and you think ‘wedding’ or ‘golf’, don’t stop there and remember there’s plenty more on offer.