Inside The Grove’s Hot Air Balloon Dining Experience

By Daniella Saunders

1 month ago

Hop aboard Feast’s hot air balloons for a meal like no other


Hertfordshire’s much-loved immersive dining pop-up has returned to The Grove hotel for another summer of delicious fun – but does it live up to the hype? Daniella Laxton gives it a whirl.

Review: Feast on Cloud 9 at The Grove Hotel

Immersive dining experiences are nothing new – in fact, some might say they’ve been a little overdone of late. But Feast on Cloud 9 isn’t all about the pageantry. Yes, the setting is pretty spectacular, but so is the food that follows. A culinary voyage inspired by the best parts of a British summer, this creative concept takes immersive dining to new heights. 

Afternoon tea at The Grove

Setting The Scene

The Grove, a luxury five-star hotel located just outside of London, is renowned for its picturesque setting – something that Feast’s pop-up takes advantage of so well. Sitting pretty within the estate’s 300 acre parkland, you’ll be immediately greeted by two rows of beautiful red and white striped ‘hot air balloons’, situated either side of an ornamental canal. And, even more spectacular, the balloons begin to brighten as night falls.

From the countryside views to the calming sounds of the water, it’s a superbly tranquil setting – made even better with beautiful weather. But, fear not; in case of rain, there is a marquee situated parallel to the balloons… and not without a little spectacle. At the centre of it is a huge globe suspended from above, which also glows as the sky darkens. 

But aside from hot air balloons and hanging globes, there is much attention to the finer details, from novelty Feast passports to cosy wool blankets (ideal for chillier evenings), and polaroid cameras in which you can capture the experience the old-fashioned way. 

Culinary Delights

There are two different menu options on offer; afternoon tea (served at 12pm or 3pm) or the evening tasting menu, served from 7.30pm. I was lucky enough to indulge in the tasting menu, a nine-course foodie adventure synonymous with the archetypal British summer. 

The journey begins with a delicious selection of canapés served in a small vintage suitcase, alongside a refreshing cocktail to set the tone. From there, each dish is as innovative – and delicious – as the other, ‘floating’ guests from sunflower fields to the seashore and beyond. 

For example, ‘Beside the Seaside’, a chicken liver parfait lolly served alongside a savoury madeleine transports guests to British beaches, whilst ‘A Spin In The Tea Cups’, a vanilla panna cotta served in tea cups with a candy floss finish, is a playful nod to a trip to the fair. Each dish is an experience; imaginative, whimsical and full of fun, without compromising on flavour. But nine courses is no mean feat, so arrive hungry, and look forward to a little surprise at the end of your meal…

Food at The Grove

The Final Word

It’s rare to find a pop-up that masters both extraordinary settings and delicious food, but this one-of-a-kind dining experience is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.

BOOK

The Feast on Cloud 9 tasting menu at The Grove is available daily for groups of four to six at 7.30pm for £125 per adult and £55 per child. feast-events.com