Wednesday, 26 September 2012

eating the view...

For over a year I have been reading amazing reviews about The Ethicurean restaurant at Barley Wood Walled Garden and wanted to visit. So today, my birthday, my husband took the day off work and we ventured off on a jaunt while the two oldest boys were in school.

The restaurant won The Observers best ethical restaurant award in 2011 and it's not hard to see why, the vegetables must jump from their beds in the amazing walled kitchen garden, through the windows and onto the plates! Forget food miles, this is food metres.

I was disappointed that there wasn't any Barley Wood Apple Juice or Cider, but like everywhere else, this years crop of apples have been poor. Owner and Head Chef Matthew Pennington joked "We can't have wassailed the trees properly!" but I don't believe that for one minute as the annual wassail looks amazing. My husband a cider and real ale connoisseur (although round here he would be called something else!) took great delight in an extensive real ale and cider menu from local breweries. He chose a goat's leap beer which was served in a jug, I chose a thirst quenching Fentiman's Victorian Lemonade.

We shared some delicious sour dough bread for starters, with oil and balsamic dip, and for our main course he chose an Arctic Char salad with new potatoes which arrived sprinkled with marigold petals, I decided upon an open rare beef sandwich, with sourdough, salad and pickled elderberries (pictured above). The food was every bit as good as we had been led to believe and the restaurant was enchanting, with mismatched furniture and a lovely relaxed vibe with tunes such as Take Five by Dave Brubeck complementing the panoramic view of the Mendips through the windows.

My husband refrained from pudding, I would never be so rude and tucked into a piece of Barley Wood sticky toffee apple cake with cream and a dusting of cinnamon, which was delicious with a cup of tea served in a vintage tea cup.

We mooched around the garden, admiring the still fruiting strawberries, courgettes, rows of salads and espaliered fruit trees, wishing we had a garden just the same. Woe betide any rabbit that ventures into this 'Mr. McGregor's' garden, they'll probably end up on the menu! All-in-all a bit of a 'garden' themed day as my husband bought me Nigel Slater's Tender cookery books for my birthday, one focuses on fruit, the other veg, which has refueled my desire to grow and eat more homegrown fare.


  1. Oh wow, this place is going on my list of places I want to visit! Rare beef sandwich sounds delicious, as does the sticky toffee apple cake. Happy birthday! x
    p.s. love your little one's look of intent concentration in the first pic! So sweet!

    1. Yes - I'm thinking it might be weaning time!

  2. how wonderful to spend a day there with your men, it does look like you had a lovely time. natalie x

  3. Ah, glad you had a good day, that lunch looks fabulous and Stanley is just adorable!

  4. Happy Birthday, Emma! I used to work near the Ethicurean, but never actually made it there for lunch. We shall have to give it a try next time we visit friends in the Chew Valley, I think. Glad you had a good day. Laura x

  5. That looks just amazing and the gardens are beautiful. Large kitchen gardens are just my favourite thing. Glad you had such a lovely day. Stanley is looking adorable and as if he were willing your food to move within his grasp! Brilliant x

  6. I still haven't eaten there! I went to the Wassail in January which was amazing... must go soon xx

  7. Oh Emma, happy birthday to you! This place looks fabulous. Glad you enjoyed yourself! x

  8. What a lovely spot for lunch. Its good to treat ourselves now and again!

  9. that looks and sounds like a heavenly birthday outing!

  10. Belated birthday wishes! This place is also on my list of places to visit, so pleased to hear you were not disappointed. x

  11. What a wonderful place to go for your Birthday celebrations. Looks delicious!

  12. Trawling though your blog I was interested to come across your shot of the lettuce plot - we (my daughter and I) planted them in August when we spent a day working in the walled garden. We never managed a return to visit to see how they'd thrived, so I was glad to see that they were looking very healthy in September.

    I blogged about it here:

    I've never eaten in The Ethicurian but we get a fortnightly veg box from the walled garden which is excellent.


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