A taste of homegrown – five country restaurants

As the green shoots of this year’s fruit and vegetables pop their heads up above the soil, we’re treating you to a guide to five Food Made Good restaurants all of which are lucky enough to boast enough land to grow plenty of their own and, crucially, give it the special treatment it deserves.

The first stop on this whistlestop tour takes us to the small Oxfordshire village of Shiplake where chefs Ryan Simpson and Liam Trotman (recently seen in a gorgeous feature in BBC Good Food Magazine feature on ‘planet-friendly chefs’), are delighting diners just near the banks of the Thames at Orwells. These lads have green fingers too and their labours bear fruit with more than three quarters of the fruit and veg coming from the nearby allotment they lovingly tend. Why not try the Berkshire pigeon with salsify, bacon, alliums and carrot?

South and west little to within striking distance of the New Forest and with the Wessex capital Winchester almost within sight. Here you will find The King’s Head Hursley – now home to chef Jenny Jones who adds a few luxurious twists to a menu full of British classics. Dorset snails appear alongside Hampshire sirloin. Not blessed with the acreage of some of those listed here, the King’s Head does however use every spare bit of space to grow fruit and vegetables – the front of the pub is adorned with edible flowers and herbs. Go on a Tuesday and you can work up an appetite in the skittle alley.

The expression field to fork was probably invented with the third of our restaurants in mind. The meat and poultry, fruit and vegetables, bread, cheese, milk and yoghurt are all produced in Daylesford’s own farm, bakery, market garden or creamery. As 2016 Food Made Good Small Group of the Year and last year’s Sustainable Restaurant of the Year, Daylesford proudly boasts way more strings to its sustainable bow than just (!) outstandingly sourced organic food. And with rotisserie chicken rubbed with seasonal herbs, lemon & garlic and wood roasted rosemary new potatoes as one of the dishes on the menu, a wee trip to the Cotswolds just became even more tempting, especially when you can book in a tour of the farm too.

We’re taking you north for the next leg of the tour. First to Lancashire and then Northumberland. Many of the dishes prepared by chef Nigel Haworth and his team at the Michelin starred Northcote include organic fruit and vegetables grown in the hotel’s garden. Free-range and pasture-fed beef and lamb sit on the menu alongside seasonal fish and seafood and a number of ingredients which are foraged locally. And if you’re travelling by train you can arrange for an electric car to transport you to the hotel set in the beautiful Ribble Valley. Who wouldn’t be tempted by Mrs Kirkham’s Cheese Soufflé followed by Gloucester Old Spot Pork Fillet, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Wild Garlic Mash, Whole Grain Mustard?

Refuelled in every sense, you can make your way to the most northerly of our restaurants where, close to Hadrian’s Wall and on the edge of Northumberland National Park you will find Battlesteads. Chef Eddie Shilton can, during the summer months, almost lean out of the kitchen window to pick herbs, salads, fruit and vegetables to complement a cornucopia of fantastic local produce including smoked duck, chicken and salmon from the nearby Bywell Smokery. And there’s plenty of game on the menu, including local wild rabbit.  If you’re lucky enough to visit on a clear night, you can feast your eyes on the stars, as Battlesteads is home to a Dark Sky Observatory – which may just remind you of how small a part of this great universe we are and why it pays to eat well.

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