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Let's Get Dressed for Dinner - The 10 Grandest Dining Rooms in the UK
Our Latest Find: Netley Hall, Shropshire
Turning your home into a luxury venue and restaurant proves no small challenge when you get to open one day shy of pandemic closures.
In 2001 Michelle Poole with her husband Colin and four young children purchased Netley Hall to raise her family, personally overseeing a three-year renovation project costing upwards of three million pounds. Under her guidance the Hall was meticulously returned to its full former glory. Netley remained the family home until 2017 when Michelle, who had been a chef in her formative years, decided to pursue her dream of converting the Hall into a fine dining restaurant and hotel. Sadly Michelle passed away before her dreams could come to fruition. Michelle’s family officially launched The Clock Tower restaurant one year after she passed, honouring her legacy and ensuring that her spirit lives on at Netley Hall for years to come.
The Clock Tower at Netley has the warmth of a family owned and operated business with all of the elegance and professionalism one would expect from a high end fine dining restaurant. Today Michelle’s husband Colin and son Harrison oversee all aspects of the restaurant and wider business, a visitor to the restaurant will often find one or both of them hosting the evening, talking about the history of the Hall and engaging with customers.
Though various lockdowns and restrictions have posed great difficulties for the hospitality industry as a whole, Harrison and Colin have taken this time to build the Clock Tower team, to perfect the quality of service that is provided to each and every customer. Every dish is designed and crafted by Head Chef Jani Celestino to complement the ambiance of the Hall, the wines are carefully paired to lift each dish by sommelier Marian Catalin, along with a wide of array aged whiskeys, ports and cocktails.
In preparation for the grand reopening on 19th May the Poole family and their team are in jubilant form, optimistic and eager for the year ahead. We check-in with Harrison Poole, General Manager of Netley Hall.
You finally get to open the restaurant door; what can the customer expect to find?
Neither the Poole family nor their team have sat idly by over the course of lockdown, we have been perfecting new dishes, creating new cocktails and developing a new outdoor seating area. Any customer walking through our doors should expect to be warmly welcomed and thoroughly taken care of throughout their experience. Our aim is that every customer leaves with their expectations exceeded.
What was behind your decision to turn the wedding venue into a hotel and fine dining restaurant?
It was a lifetime ambition of my late mother to own and operate a fine dining restaurant. During her lifetime her daughters had not finished education and as such the Hall was still very much home. The Hall was built in 1858 as a wedding gift for the Hope and the Edwards family; the Hall was always designed to be used as a marvellous venue for hosting grand events. After many decades we have now restored the Hall to be used as it was initially intended.
It has been a bit of a year, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
The most important thing to us was ensuring that we kept all of our highly skilled, trained and motivated team no matter what restrictions were thrown our way. Our team had committed themselves to us so we were determined to show that we could offer them the security they needed.
Were you able to put the last 12 months to good effect?
We opened on the 20th March 2020 and really felt the brunt of restrictions, having only operated for one night with no covid restrictions in place. Despite the calamity that was 2020 we have managed to grow and learn as a business and are now well placed to excel into 2021.
Do you have any special visions for the restaurant to put it in the spotlight?
Ours and our teams goals are nothing short of culinary excellence, rosettes and hopefully stars in the future. We understand the hard work and dedication required to achieve these ambitious goals but are wholeheartedly dedicated to achieve them.
This is your home, how has it been sharing it?
Having personally grown up in Netley Hall it is truly heart-warming to see customers appreciate and enjoy both the setting and the service we provide. Myself and my family are proud to open our doors to the public.
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