I’m a big fan of Riverford organic farms, who sell seasonal organic produce via their farm shops in Devon, as well as delivering online orders across the country.
So, I thought it was time I visited the Riverford Field Kitchen. I was looking for something a bit different for a lunch out with family who were visiting for the weekend. I booked us in to their lunch time sitting (everyone is asked to arrive at 12 for a 12.30 start), and off we went, winding our way through beautiful Devon countryside to the kitchen which is just down the road from the organic farm near Staverton in the South Hams.
If you’ve ever been to Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s canteens, you’ll be familiar with the setup. Long, canteen style tables run the width of the wooden structured eco-building which is nestled seamlessly into the landscape. The kitchen is at one end and floor to ceiling windows give the feeling of being outside.
Each day, there’s a set menu of seasonal dishes, which are delivered to the tables for everyone to pass around and share. Sharing food is not for everyone – but there’s plenty to go around and it actually makes for a very sociable dining experience – my mother became quite pally with her neighbour! Typically, the menu comprises a locally farmed meat and vegie main dish, simply cooked but delicious with an array of inventive and flavoursome vegetable dishes. We had the most tender roast duck, with swede slaw that I’m determined to recreate at home. It’s a menu that inspires in its simplicity and flavour.
The emphasis is on good honest wholesome food, but there’s an impressive list of local beers and a selection of decent wine, local and otherwise!
Pudding was an event in itself. Served at the kitchen pass by the chefs, you’re faced with a choice of 5 freshly made extravagances, enthusiastically served by the field kitchen chefs. They all looked so delicious we had a hard time choosing – safest to have a bit of each, with lashings of homemade custard! Reinventions of old favourites feature heavily; sticky toffee pudding, plum frangipane tart.
I was very pleased with my choice; great value at £23.50 per head for a three course meal and an experience that will be remembered; the setting, friendly, personal service, meeting the chefs, it all feels like getting closer to the food you’re eating and getting back to old values of seasonal food enjoyed in a relaxed and sociable environment. It’s a great choice if you’ve got young ones in tow, throughout the course of our visit there were several little ones wandering about, playing with the thoughtfully provided toys from the and exploring the garden in front of the kitchen.
If you’re looking for somewhere to spend the afternoon after lunch, head to nearby Totnes, a pretty old market town with a very alternative feel. You can easily while away a few hours mooching around the independent shops.