When was the last time you got to the restaurant you were eating at on a tractor?
That is how we arrived at River Cottage HQ for dinner. I was there with my fiancé Chris who booked for us to eat as a celebration of our 6 year anniversary.
Friday Night at River Cottage is unlike any dining experience I’ve been too. Following the ride on the tractor and trailer, we enjoyed an apple aperitif and canapés in the warmth of the wood oven heated yurt whilst listening to the RC front of house manager explain the format for the rest of the evening.
Moving into the barn, we found our seats at the large communal dining tables. This is not the place to enjoy a romantic meal for two, as you will be sitting next to people you don’t know and chatting about anything and everything.
After purchasing a bottle of Sparkling Elderflower Wine, pouring ourselves a glass and saving our seats with our coats, we left the barn and went exploring. First up was the farmhouse. If you are a regular watcher of Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall’s River Cottage TV Series, you’ll recognise the next few rooms.
After a quick look around the cookery school and a sneak peak into the kitchen for the goodies that awaited us, we took a seat waiting for our final canapés.
First up Beetroot Soup. This had a complex earthiness and the delicate splodge (great word!) of cream in the middle had an aromatic hit of cumin through it. To dunk in, we had freshly baked organic Sourdough Bread (made using a 9 year sourdough starter) and Devon blue cheese and black onion seed scones.
Next up were bashed Jerusalem artichokes. They have the texture of new potatoes and when paired with spinach-like wilted purslane, salty River Cottage dried (Parma) Ham and mustard leaves, they were just dreamy.
At this point, I was feeling extremely full. I mean like ready to pop. So when the main of pulled pork, quick cured pork loin, roasted carrots and parsnips, potato puree, savoy cabbage and leeks arrived, I couldn’t finish it all despite my efforts – looking at these pictures I’m regretting it now! If you go, my advice would be to just try everything but not eat the first two courses in full (although this is extremely hard when it tastes so good!).
After finishing our drinks (that Luscombe Lemonade is da bomb! So tangy!), we waited for our tractor ride back up the hill where our taxi was waiting for us to take us back to our B&B accommodation for the night.
If you are looking for a place to stay close to River Cottage if you plan to go, I cannot recommend Spillers Farm B&B enough.
Run by Bridget and Keith, it is the loveliest setting a stone’s throw (10 min taxi ride) from RC HQ. A fully functioning farm, Bridget and Keith rear and cure their own bacon and sausages, as well as cultivating their own vegetables, eggs and homemade jams.
Even though we were stuffed from the night before, breakfast was too good to pass up. We opted to try our first duck eggs, which were rich, oozy and definitely something I’d have again. Bridget and Keith cook everything sans oil, instead opting for the searing heat of the AGA.
The room we slept in was really cosy, the bed was extremely comfortable and the little things like the wine glasses and bottle opener showed us that they really care about their guests. The taxi service that Bridget and Keith recommend are very reliable and reasonably priced, and even Hugh uses them to ferry him around! We quizzed out taxi driver James on all the gossip.
We left with a bottle of the Apple aperitif, extremely full bellies and a plan to return. We didn’t get to see the man himself, but hey you win some, Hugh lose some…