Life
Neil Davey 8 Feb 2017 10:30am

Restaurants: farm to fork treats

As the next best thing to growing (and cooking) his own, Neil Davey samples some of Britain’s freshest farm to fork eateries

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Caption: Neil Davey samples some of Britain’s freshest farm to fork eateries.

Breakfast

Gloagburn Farm, Tibbermore, Perthshire

gloagburn.co.uk

Gloagburn’s café has some 100 covers. It’s not hard to see why: the breakfast menu is a thing of simple beauty. Their own eggs in a handful of variations, Ayrshire bacon and Stornaway black pudding – great ingredients, well cooked, in generous measure, plus a “homegrown” porridge – with cream – that will keep you going for hours.

Lunch

Albion Farm Shop, Delph, Saddleworth, Greater Manchester

albionfarmshop.co.uk

Doorstop rarebit. Black pudding stack. Crumpet loaf. Lancashire rag pudding a traditional braised steak suet pudding. Two sizes of ham, egg and chips If you can spot the weakness in that menu, youre either just no fun or a heart surgeon. For the rest of us, Albion Farm Shops caf is everything a farm shop caf should be.

Dinner

Rhug Estate – Bison Grill, Corwen, Denbighshire

rhug.co.uk

If you eat out regularly, you’ll probably have spotted the Rhug name. Their meat – organic, slow raised – is regarded as some of the best in the UK.

It is available at the likes of Le Manoir and at Rhug’s own very good farm shop and restaurant, Bison Grill. That name’s no accident – as well as salt marsh lamb, beef and amazing chickens, Rhug have their own bison herd.

And very tasty it is too. Mind you, the same applies to just about anything on this crowd-pleasing menu. It’s effectively a gastro-pub bill of fare but: a) that’s not a criticism; and b) it’s one where the gastro-pub grows and rears most of its own ingredients.

It’s not all meat. The Moroccan-spiced beetroot, chickpea and halloumi burger is a thoroughly decent example of its ilk. And the pea, broad bean, goat’s cheese and poached egg bruschetta would fit neatly into many a modern British brasserie.

Of course, for the carnivorous, these are but distractions, and Rhug’s meaty fame is entirely justified. A lamb burger – with organic Welsh goat’s cheese, plum tomato, cucumber and mint yoghurt – is terrific, but it’s the bison rib-eye that really delivers, with none of the anticipated gaminess, just sweetness and surprising depth. The cooking, too, is absolutely on point, and they do a very good chip. That might sound like faint praise but, seriously, how many places have you been to that let you down with a disappointing fried spud? Exactly.

Desserts are simple and none the worse for it. Rice pudding – with homemade jam and some cracking little oaty biscuits – ticked all the relevant boxes; the Welsh cheeseboard packs a lot of flavour into a good value plate; and anywhere that offers a baked cheesecake of the day is always going to get a thumbs up.

Earth shattering? Far from it, but there’s an admirably simple approach that lets Rhug’s (and other local) ingredients shine in simple and simply tasty ways.

Dish of the Day

“The lamb burger is terrific”

Bison Grill