It has been a while since my last blog post – it came as quite a shock to see how much time had past since I last properly posted here. I’ve still been trying new recipes and ingredients but only recently realised how much I’ve missed writing about my culinary adventures. After what has been a tough year so far, I’ve decided to return to blogging and plan to post here regularly – at least once a week. I will continue to focus on seasonal, local ingredients, with the odd detour along the way, including documenting any great restaurant finds.
Indeed my first post is on a fantastic restaurant Bill and I discovered with friends a few weeks ago – The Wellington Arms in Baughurst, Hampshire. I was tasked with finding a country pub or restaurant halfway between Surrey (where we live) and Oxfordshire and after some searching came across the Independent’s Top 50 Country Pubs where The Wellington Arms came highly recommended.
After visiting the website I came across a glowing recommendation from one of my favourite food writers, Diana Henry: “At this tiny but perfectly formed pub, it is worth fighting for one of the twelve tables.” My mind was made up and I desperately hoped they would be able to squeeze us in. Our luck was in and I managed to secure a last-minute booking for Saturday lunchtime – no fighting needed.
The drive along winding country lanes to the tiny village of Baughurst was beautiful and picturesque – I wish I had had a proper camera with me to take photos of the stunning countryside with contrasting fields of vibrant yellow oilseed rape.
Arriving at The Wellington Arms, we were greeted by this sign:
The Wellington Arms has its own rare-breed hens, along with pigs, sheep and bee hives. Using homegrown, local and organic produce, the owners Simon and Jason grow salad leaves and herbs in their kitchen garden (using polytunnels in winter) and asparagus, courgettes, pumpkins, salads and root vegetables in raised beds.
This already seemed like a special place and worthy of the rave reviews I had read online. This was confirmed when we settled down at our table (after a very warm welcome from Simon) and read through the excellent menu.
My starter, twice-baked Westcombe Cheddar cheese soufflé on braised leeks with double cream & Parmesan, was incredible – rich in flavour with a light, fluffy texture.
My main, baked potato gnocchi with roasted butternut squash, walnuts, sage and Parmesan, was equally delicious and incredibly filling. The flavours worked in perfect harmony, with the sage and Parmesan providing the perfect savoury foil to the sweet squash, caramelised walnuts and sticky balsamic dressing.
My dessert (yes, I was full but there was no way I was turning this down) was a warm and comforting Seville marmalade sponge pudding with homemade custard.
This restaurant embodies everything I love – seasonal, local produce cooked well. No fancy techniques, just great food, with the produce the stars of the show. We shall definitely be back.