I've always been one for making dinner the event - I pity the "food is fuel" fools (I said that in a Mr T voice in my own head there). So escalating this into a compete eatcation is exactly how I like to spend my time. Not only do you have an afternoon of anticipation for the brilliant wining and dining ahead, but a whole weekend of it. With so many restaurants a little drive away from Brighton, and lets face it, no-one likes hefty taxi fees or turning down the good wine, an overnight visit is the perfect solution.
The Estate's soil is mainly free draining chalk, which is ideal for the barley used to brew their own ale and lager (I've tried it, and darn good it is too) and for the grazing of the Southdown sheep and Sussex cattle along with clovers, oats and wheat. There are also a herd of 200 Dairy Shorthorns and mix breed pigs.
But it doesn't stop there; The organic milk is made into cheese in their own Cheese Room and meat is butchered onsite by their own Master Butchers. Unsurprisingly then, the produce and farm boast a plethora of accolades and awards to make the trophy cabinet collapse under the weight...you get the point. It's the real deal.
From my table I could see my bedroom for the night, a literal stones throw and a comforting thought as I ordered cocktails in sky high heels. Wine list? Sure, I'll take a look at that.
You quickly get the point that proper food is at the heart of this restaurant. Bread arrives in wonderful slabs, not bijoux rolls, and is served with beef dripping butter.
Starters were excellent; my crispy hens egg was clever - with a faux shell of fine herbed breadcrumbs and piquant chorizo and creamed corn. Delicious flavours that all belong together. The earthy offal of the Lamb Faggot was lightened with peas and samphire and a beautiful example of nose to tail, let's face it, it would be a crime to waste any of the produce here.
There were plenty of delicious dishes on the mains to choose from, I'd have eaten all of them happily, but one of the Butcher's Boards (lamb, beef or pork) is a true showcase of the estate's meats. And you know you've made the right decision when your food arrives with it's own supporting trestle.
The berry-blush Beef Wellington was encased in fine pastry and the meat had so much depth of flavour with a vibrant green herb duxelle alternative. As well as the Wellington, the board boasted breadcrumbed crispy shin, a meltingly tender, glossy glazed brisket, thin strips of ox tongue with braised little gem (over blanched and a touch greasy - the only small negative) and beef dripping potatoes. We supplemented this generous quantity of food with Spiced Cauliflower and Almond and Dressed Heritage Tomatoes.
The recommended Sangiovese was ideal - enough spice to square up to the richness of the meat whilst being light enough for the balmy evening.
Any carnivore would be in absolute heaven here, as I was. The jumpsuit was tested to the limit as we devoured the whole lot. For £50, for two people, the board was also exceptional value for a meal of such quality and provenance.
The sharing Rhubarb and Ginger Baked Alaska is a must order, crown-like and surrounded by pretty pink rhubarb and hazelnut praline. I'm so happy to see this retro classic back on the menus, reworked for fine dining - dessert is a time for fun and this fits the bill. The ginger zing was happily present and a superb dessert to wake the palate up and enjoy on the hot summer evening.
This was an exceptional meal and highlights the turn in style for dining that seems to be in the air. There seems to be a fatigue of overworked and fussy menus with even the likes of Marina O'Loughlin writing "This tortured style of cooking is starting to look old-fashioned and silly: the new wave of restaurant stars are perfecting dishes where a few flawless ingredients are allowed to shine like delicious beacons." The dishes at Farmer, Butcher, Chef are intervened where necessary, but not excessively, allowing the brilliant produce to shine through. Portions are hearty and for someone who dines out as much as I do, I was almost beside myself at being served a "proper" meal. You'll leave satisfied and happy.
The Goodwood Hotel
I stayed and dined as a guest of Goodwood. Words and thought, as always, my own.