Sustainability is at the centre of this restaurant within the Goodwood hotel, located on the organic South Downs estate, owned by the Earl of March. Janet Harmer checks it out
For a restaurant located at the heart of a 12,000-acre country estate with an organic farm, Farmer, Butcher, Chef is aptly named.
The 80-cover, two-red-AA-rosette eaterie is set within the four-AA-star Goodwood hotel, nestled into the South Downs, four miles outside of Chichester in West Sussex.
It was relaunched three years ago after an extensive refurbishment that transformed what was previously a bland hotel dining room into an informal and vibrant space, reflecting the locality. Whitewashed beams provide a contemporary edge, with added interest from a collection of farm implements and rural artefacts, alongside fresh produce displayed in metal fire buckets on a central trestle table.
Farmer, Butcher, Chef was named to reflect the close working relationship between Tim Hassell, general manager of Goodwood Estate's Home Farm; John Hearn, who heads the in-house butchery; and executive chef Darron Bunn, who oversees events across the estate, as well as the food offer at the hotel.
The Earl of March, whose family have farmed the Goodwood estate for 300 years, champions the restaurant as a fully sustainable operation. Every cut from the animals that are born and reared organically on the estate is used throughout the various menus, which include an à la carte alongside a set lunch and pre-theatre offer featuring two (£14.95) or three (£19.95) courses. There are also Little Farmer and Young Farmer menus, featuring dishes for small and expanding appetites, priced at £5 and £8 respectively.
Overseeing the kitchen is head chef Ben Hammett, who returned to his roots to work at Goodwood 18 months ago, having spent time working overseas in the US, the Caribbean, Italy and Australia. He had originally started his professional career at Goodwood at the age of 15 while studying at Chichester College.
In addition to the eight starters, seven mains and seven puddings on the à la carte menu, there is a choice of three ‘Butcher's Boards' to share, featuring the estate's Sussex red beef, Saddleback pork and South Downs lamb, priced at £25, £20 and £20 per head respectively.
Each board highlights the versatility of the animal through with a variety of cuts. In the case of the beef board, guests can enjoy glazed, slow-cooked beef, smoked beef heart, crisp beef shin and onion pressing, tongue and cheek stew, beef dripping chips and a roasted gem salad with oxtail, pickled onion and buttermilk dressing.
Hammett highlights a dish of cheese and onion doughnuts, caramelised onion and Charlton custard (£7.50) as one of the most popular starters from the à la carte menu. "Customers order them because are intrigued by the thought of a savoury doughnut," he says.
The dough is fried in a jaffle pan – brought back from Australia by Hammett – which enables 12 doughnuts to be cooked at the same time. Once ready, the doughnuts are piped with Charlton custard, created from a hard Cheddar-style cheese made on the estate. Charlton is one of three Goodwood cheeses alongside Molecomb Blue and Levin Down, a soft cheese.
The meat-heavy main courses primarily feature cuts that require slow cooking, such as a beef tri-tip that is marinated for an hour in herbs, spices, vinegar and mustard before receiving a burst of heat over a charcoal Ox Grill. The meat is then raised higher above the coals to be smoked for up to six hours before being cooked sous vide at 86ºC overnight.
Portions of the meat are combined with onion, garlic and the reduced cooking jus, topped with a thick red wine glaze and flashed under a grill. The finished beef is topped with a sourdough and onion crust, black treacle hollandaise, oyster mushrooms and creamed horseradish potato (£18.50).
When it comes to dessert, baked Alaska (£15 to share) is always a show-stopper. Hammett's version features a thyme genoise sponge, finished with a summer berry fruit parfait and Italian meringue rippled with an intense red berry coulis.
The restaurant's popularity has prompted an expansion of the hotel from 91 bedrooms to 107, part of a major transformation with a radical new design from Cindy Leveson, who oversaw the creation of the restaurant.
From the menu
• Baked plaice, cauliflower, crown fennel, brown butter £8
• Spiced lamb faggot, curried carrot, candied almond and lentils £7.50
• Roast summer squash, Goodwood yogurt, Levin Down and shallot £7.50
• Slow-cooked South Downs lamb, chicory jam, beetroot, thyme and butter pressing, peas and broad beans £18.50
• Pork collar, grilled spring onion, roasted Savoy heart, gherkin ketchup £18
• Roasted Tenderstem broccoli gratin, granola, pickled beans, Charlton custard £17
• Dark chocolate cake, espresso, salted caramel, banana ice-cream £7.50
• Rhubarb soufflé, ginger ice-cream £8
Farmer, Butcher, Chef, the Goodwood hotel, New Barn Hill, Chichester PO18 0QB
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