Amber and I hopped in the car and drove the thirty minutes or so to Riverford Field Kitchen at Buckfastleigh, just outside Totnes in Devon. We arrived in plenty of time so we enjoyed the early spring sunshine for a short while before entering the purpose built restaurant. The first thing you notice when you arrive is the decor. Riverford believe that food tastes better when shared. Communal dining is all the rage here.. You sit with other guests and help yourself from the serving platters presented. I actually like this way of eating.. It’s very sociable and you are in control of your portions. If you want a small amount you can have a small amount. If you want seconds or thirds then you are free to do so. Perfect for all appetites.
Talking to the sous chef Edward Watts he commented that they had a pretty small kitchen at Riverford but manage to cater for 80 covers at lunch. The same at dinner. I guess this might be why they offer one sitting and everyone is served at the same time. The menu is set so the chefs can prepare what they need in advance for however many covers they have. Not having to worry about what orders are going to come in means they can cater for the guests efficiently using the limited kitchen space.
Now, what comes out of the kitchen in my book is wonderful. Every platter of food that comes is a joy. Visually stunning and completely to my taste. A lot of the dishes on this occasion were similar to what I have created at home. Blood orange and fennel is a winning combination and I love the combination of earthy roasted beetroot and lentils.. So good. I make hummus a lot at home but never carrot hummus. I will definately have to recreate this dish. It was divine and the focaccia to mop it up was soft on the inside with a salty crunch on the outside. If that doesn’t make your mouth water I want to know why!
Amber and I both opted for the vegetarian choice. An onion and blue cheese tart served with a courgette and garlic purée. Chef Edward gifted us the vegan choice to try too.. Mushroom arancini. Delicious mushroom risotto balls coated in breadcrumbs and fried. These were oozing in the middle and crunchy on the outside. For me personally I would have liked a little more seasoning but still very tasty. The side dishes were garlic and red onion roast potatoes. These were exceptional. The garlic and onion was so moorish alongside the roast potatoes. I went in for more! A combination of chard, fennel, purple sprouting brocolli with raisins and some carrots, leeks and beautifully cooked cauliflower that still had a little crunch to it. The carrots were sweet and full of flavour. I noticed this the last time I visited too. They grow good carrots here. I actually stopped off at Riverford farm shop to buy some on the way home!
When it comes to pudding each table is called to the kitchen to choose dessert. A selection of cakes and puddings Some hot and some cold. All served with cream or custard. Amber and I were lucky enough to try three out of the choices available. Lucky us eh? We opted for the sticky toffee pudding with custard, a baked chocolate mousse with cream plus a salted caramel tart. All delicious but we couldn’t finish them due to being full from the first two courses.
The set menu for three courses is £23.50. Amber and I each had a Luscombe drink and a coffee so split the bill. It came in at around £29.00 each with a tip. Pretty good value I think for more food than you can eat. I would like to go back again when the weather is better and sit outside soaking in the views.
After our lunch Amber and I walked up the hill to help let our food go down. We put our wellies on and stomped through the mud churned up by the tractor. It was beautiful up there. Looking over the restaurant and poly tunnels.
To complete our trip to Riverford we stopped off at the farm shop where I purchased carrots and some Sharpham rustic cheese. Made a few miles away on the other side of Totnes. Amber picked up some Sharpham vineyard wine on my recommendation. The Dart reserve.. It’s really very good! (Plus, Duncan the husband of my dear friend Chloe makes it!)
Amber and I had a wonderful afternoon and have started making plans for our next foodie adventure!