Devon Food Movement’s latest pop-up at picturesque Lewtrenchard Manor saw traditional fine food embrace the foraging spirit, while keeping to the movement’s five-mile food ethos, says Selena Young
It’s the first time Devon Food Movement’s founder Luke Fearon and Lewtrenchard’s head chef Tom Browning have collaborated, yet the partnership effortlessly married Tom’s sophisticated cooking style and Luke’s hyperlocal and seasonal approach, avoiding the kind of awkward mishaps you might expect from a first collab.
VISIT for an enthralling mix of dishes. We liked hopping from unusual platefuls like quail egg wrapped in ham fat and herbs to a simple-but-killer wild garlic focaccia, lovingly slathered with whipped farmhouse butter (swoon).
The hyperlocal ethos was another winner: a perfectly pink deer loin was studded with blackberries plucked from the manor’s garden.
DON’T VISIT if you’re squeamish about trying adventurous foods.
Luke and Tom began the evening warning ‘there may be some dishes on the menu which shock you, but go in with an open mind, we wouldn’t serve them if they didn’t taste good’ – and they were right. The potentially eye-widening courses of deer heart with creamy Sharpham Elmhirst cheese, and deer tartare in wild herbs might be uncharted waters for some but turned out to be downright delicious.
Also, don’t visit if you’re not up for a natter with fellow guests. Dining at communal tables creates friendly chatter between courses, before periods of greedy silence followed by communal nodding and matched hums of enjoyment.
WE LIKED the Salcombe Gin welcome drink and scrumptious black pudding doughnut canapé before supper. The desserts were a triumph too: a duck egg custard was luxurious and insatiably creamy with frozen shreds of crisp orchard apple hitting a refreshing note. A prettily-plated pud of spiced sponge and rhubarb buttermilk which followed was dotted with white chocolate mousse.
Insider’s tip Arrive early to explore the beautiful country house hotel’s grounds.
What we ate (tasting menu)
Quail egg, ham fat and herbs
Wild garlic focaccia, whipped farmhouse butter
Deer heart, Sharpham Elmhirst
Raw deer, Dartmoor mushrooms, wild herbs
Deer loin and haunch, cabbage, blackberries
Vintage Curworthy, wild preserves and malt crackers
Duck egg custard, orchard apple
Rhubarb, buttermilk, spice
Penny bun fudge
£49.50 per person
Find out where the Devon Food Movement will be popping up next here.
Jo Rees loosens her corset and revels in drama and dinner at one of the South West's most historic country house hotels, Lewtrenchard Manor