Sunday, 30 January 2011

Riverford Field Kitchen

Last night for my mother's birthday, we went to the Riverford Field Kitchen. I've been a fan of the Riverford box scheme for years, although I just got bored of having the same veg for weeks at a time, so I don't get deliveries anymore. I just like a bit of variety.

The concept of the Riverford restaurant is amazing, as a majority of the vegetables come straight out of the acres of farmland surrounding the field kitchen, but the predominant model for this restaurant comes in the way the food is served, and I understand this may not be for everyone, me included. All the food comes out at once in rustic serving dishes and you help yourself. The problem with this style of serving is that you have to share with strangers and this does create an awkwardness which made me a little uncomfortable. I'm all up for a bit of communal dining, but not with people I don't know, don't want to know and probably will never see again. So if you want to avoid this, then book for a table of eight.

For first course we were handed a ridiculous amount of antipasti, when I say ridiculous, I mean far too much, in a good way. I could list everything, but there were too many dishes. The highlight was a Beetroot dip. We shared an excellent French Sauvignon Blanc which was nearly as good as a Marlborough New Zealand.

For the main course we had feather blade steak on creamy mash with a type of salsa verde on top. The beef was perfectly tender and flavorsome, but the salsa verde had an overpowering fishiness due to being overloaded with Anchovies. A thinly sliced rare rump with mustard hollandaise was also served and this was equally as delicious as the feather blade. The choice of veg & salads was endless, and although I have grumbled about sharing with strangers, the grub was plentiful and the food kept coming until we were physically full. I really mean the word "physically" as towards the end it was painful. To wash the pain away, we drank a Spanish red (can't remember the name, it was a Grenache or Garnacha grape), which was superbly smooth, lots of fruit and a subtle spicy finish. Hope that doesn't make me sound too much like a pretentious wine prick. I probably am a bit of a wine prick.

Pudding, not desert, was another breathtaking collection of food. To name a few, we had a choice of Sticky Toffee pud, Pear & Almond tart or Blood Orange Eaton Mess, there was a choice of about ten. I shared a pear tart & sticky pud with my girlfriend, both were excellent. 

I was a little disappointed not to see Jane Baxter (the head chef) in the kitchen again, I've heard she is a little elusive, never mind. This is the third time I've been to this restaurant and it certainly is not the last, I'm quite unashamed to say the Field Kitchen is my favorite place to eat out at the moment. If you are ever in Devon and want some seriously good food and a unique dining experience, then put on your wellies, take a stroll around the Riverford fields, take a seat on an uncomfortable bench and have an unforgettable time. Oh, don't forget to book, you can't just walk into the restaurant and expect to eat, even if it's not busy. Honestly, that's the way it works. Advanced booking is essential.

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