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It was only when we were half-way down the M5 and I thought I ought to google where exactly we were going for lunch that I twigged that Aldwyn’s, Malvern’s swish new bistro, is part of a massive new retirement complex, Ellerslie, that opened last autumn.
My heart immediately sank a little, thinking that we’d be spending an hour seated on easy-wipe formica chairs, feeling very out of place and surrounded by a death-like silence.
Happily, after a few hours at Aldwyn’s, I was able to reassess my prejudices, and I actually left wishing that I was 30 years older and therefore eligible to move in.
To explain: like so many retirement villages that are popping up around the country, Ellerslie has made a point of putting in high-end facilities to tempt in visitors from the local community. There’s a state-of-the-art gym, pool and salon that rivals any expensive spa I’ve visited, not to mention a £4million art collection on loan from regional galleries.
Then there’s the restaurant. Aldwyn’s is set within a sensitively restored Grade II listed Regency mansion, and the interiors most certainly fit the magnificence of the building (think plush velvet and ornate contemporary lighting). The menu is divided into starters, light bites, classics and mains. Pretty much all of it is home-made, from the haggis bon-bon that accompanied pan-seared scallops (£10.50) to the brioche buns for my three beef sliders (£10.50), not to mention the wonderful skin-on chips.
The house-cured salmon starter (£8.50) was presented with a tart cucumber pickle and rich beetroot puree, whilst the oven-roasted lamb rump with potato gratin (£18.50) was well executed, though perhaps needed more baby veg to sit alongside the generous heap of meat. Dessert of tiramisu was dense and rich, served with home-made biscotti.
The chefs at Aldwyn’s are keen on paying attention to detail and doing things properly, and all credit to them for that.
The kitchen was occasionally on the slow side, but this was more than made up for by the waiting staff, who were relaxed and yet perfectly on the ball: gold stars to the waitress, who magicked up crayons and paper from her apron for my tetchy one-year-old, and also to Simon, Ellerslie’s general manager, who knew all his residents by name and is clearly a perfect host.
To buy a property at Ellerslie will set you back upwards of £300k.
A visit to Aldwyn’s provides a taste of this upmarket lifestyle, but for the price of a moderately expensive lunch. Visit if you can.
**** Helen Stallard
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