Fiona Beckett gives her verdict on Coombeshead Farm...
Coombeshead Farm, Cornwall
The most talked about British restaurant opening of 2016 was not in London but Lewannick, a remote Cornish hamlet, on a 28ha farm called Coombeshead run by two leading lights of the food scene: Tom Adams of Pitt Cue in London and April Bloomfield of New York’s Spotted Pig.
The pair (mainly Adams, who lives on the farm) use curing, pickling and preserving techniques on produce from local growers and farmers. So dazzling is the food you only realise later that it’s frugal too: the smoked eel that appears one night in a broth made from pig’s head and eel bones, turns up the next puréed on top of crisps of dehydrated potato skins.
The farm, which has six rooms, has more the atmosphere of a house party than a restaurant. You all congregate in the kitchen for drinks and nibbles (there is a spectacular bar in the living room), then at 7.30pm you move to the dining room for the ‘bread course’. This entails great chunks of warm, darkly crusted sourdough with homemade butter and a selection of small plates that could include freshly picked crab and aioli, rillettes or homemade curd cheese and roast beetroot. Afterward there is likely to be some kind of fish course (probably cured), some sweet-tasting pork from Adams’ own Mangalitsa pigs, and then simple homely milk puddings such as apple and quince jelly with custard and a topping of roasted hazelnuts. Amazingly, all this is cooked on a two-oven Aga and a wood-fired oven.
You wouldn’t expect a place like this to have an extensive wine cellar but it does: a large walk-in one which shares space with a colourful array of pickle jars. Turns out that Adams picked up his interest in wine from his father, an avid collector, and has been studying the subject ever since. (His brother Ben is a partner in the Languedoc winery Les Clos Perdus.)
Looking for offbeat gems among the closely packed rows of vintage Bordeaux and an impressive selection of old Vouvrays, we pick a vivid old-vine 2014 Carignan called Campagnés from Maxime Magnon in Corbiéres which, together with a fancy 2014 Dürnsteiner Kellerberg Riesling Smaragd from FX Pichler in Austria, easily tips our wine bill into treble figures – but BYO is welcome, so ask.
The enforced conviviality (there’s only one shared table) may not be to your taste, and the no-choice menu may result in the repetition of a few dishes with your dining partner or with breakfast if you are staying overnight, but these are minor gripes.
Coombeshead Farm, Lewannick, Cornwall PL15 7QQ
Tel: 01566 782 009
Open Monday- Wednesday B&B only, and Thursday- Sunday for dinner and B&B. The fixed dinner menu is £50pp (excl wine) and B&B is £110-£185/night. Closed January.
- Fiona Beckett is a Decanter contributing editor and restaurant reviewer. She writes a wine column for the Guardian. To get the first look at her bar and restaurant reviews from all over the world, subscribe to Decanter magazine here
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