We got word of a host of new offers at the Royal Golf Club, so Liz O’Reilly headed to Links to try out some excellent food and find out what’s in store.
Links is the Royal Golf Club’s main dining outlet. Bright and airy, its mocha-coloured walls are adorned with golfing shots both contemporary and historic – giving a sense of time and place. Comfortable velour seating in shades of blue and coffee encourages you to linger over a long lunch or extended dinner. The bar is well stocked and inviting and the music gentle and unobtrusive.
The star of the show is, without a doubt, the view. Along one side of the dining room, floor-to-ceiling windows look out on the course’s rolling greens, a small lake and the practice putting area. I’m almost tempted to put lunch on hold and head out for a round… but not quite. The restaurant also boasts a pleasant open terrace where you can enjoy the current cool weather. Chef Sudheesh comes to meet us and offers to prepare a selection of his signature dishes, to which we eagerly agree. And, before very long, we are served an impressive bowl of tempura prawns. The crustaceans are massive and encased in a piping-hot savoury batter. Alone, they are excellent, the flesh sweet, yielding and perfectly complemented by the crispy coating. Served with salty soy and sweet chilli mayo sauces, they take on a new dimension, the marriage of flavours working together to enliven our taste buds and keep us going back for more.
A warm seafood salad with generous helpings of calamari, mussels and shrimps follows with slivers of grapefruit teasing out the subtle flavours of the ocean’s offerings.
Blackened Chicken Salad is our third appetiser presenting smoky flesh amid a cornucopia of green leaves, ripe yet firm and tasty avocado, radish and tomato. A liberal topping of ranch-style dressing brings out the unforgettable flavour of the chicken, the firm, charry outer and sweet meat a welcome counterpart to the tartness of the crunchy green leaves and creamy avocado.
The first of our mains arrives and it is a dish that has been specially requested by my dining companion. Fish and chips with mushy peas. It is very much a comfort food option and only few places get it right. There is a delicate art to achieving crispy batter without overcooking the fish. Fortunately, Chef Sudheesh is a master and the fillets are perfectly firm while the batter is super crunchy. Chunky chips and mushy peas are, of course, the ideal accompaniment to this quintessentially English dish and, alongside homemade tartar sauce, they do not disappoint.
The aroma of a brightly coloured Thai Shrimp Curry reaches us before the actual dish – gentle wafts of coconut and spices whetting our appetites. Arriving at the table in a small pot accompanied by a puddle of sweet sticky noodles and a helping of rice cooked al dente, the aromatic gravy gently envelopes the plump juicy prawns. Crunchy green snow peas add both texture and taste and the creaminess of the coconut perfectly offsets the heat of chillis and spices.
Our final main course is Veronica Chicken. Marinated in pineapple and garlic, the chicken is then cooked in blue cheese and grape sauce. This is a dish I have not encountered before and I am intrigued by the combination of flavours. The sauce is creamy and strong but there is just a subtle hint of fruitiness from the grapes backed up by the pineapple. The chicken is served with a combination of regular and purple potatoes, which not only elevate the presentation but also add an elegant nuttiness, alongside mushrooms and asparagus – an all-time favourite. Together, the elements of this dish blend well to give an interesting assortment of textures and flavours and it’s certainly something I would order again.
And so, to dessert. We are almost full but it would be churlish to miss out on the chef ’s much loved offerings. My dining companion samples the High Coffee – a mixture of cappuccino coffee accompanied by a chocolate log and a light coffee macaron – while I dive enthusiastically into the Royal Chocolate Ball. Seated on a bed of toasted praline and topped with blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, a rich, dark, gooey chocolate sauce oozes warmly from a crisp chocolate shell and I am immediately transported to greedy-girl heaven.
I’d highly recommend a visit to the Royal Golf Club, especially since there is so much coming up in February from the start of a new Business Lunch and Afternoon Tea to the Elements’ membership which will give diners a range of privileges throughout the year without ever having to pick up a golf club.