There was a time when there was nothing unusual about cooking from the contents of your garden – everyone from labourers to the lord of the manor did it. But in an era where we are more divorced than ever from the source of our food, garden-to-fork dining has gained luxury appeal. These standout hotels celebrate their surroundings with menus furnished with the finest homegrown ingredients.
The Pig Hotels, Brockenhurst and Padstow
The popular Pig Hotels have built their identity around a dedication to garden-to-fork dining, with kitchen gardens as the beating heart of each hotel. The group’s original Hampshire hideaway, The Pig in Brockenhurst, and newest edition, The Pig at Harlyn Bay, pair their settings in the New Forest and on the Cornish coastline with a dedication to growing their own produce for each restaurant.
Every single dish on these ever-evolving menus features something from the kitchen garden, with the head chef and head kitchen gardener speaking at least once a day about what to harvest. Here, 25-mile menus highlight the ingredients of local purveyors and what’s growing in the garden in hearty dishes such as Longwood Estate partridge breast with onion squash and blackberry sauce or grilled Padstow lobster with foragers butter, thrice cooked chips and pickle salad.
The Newt, Somerset
Harvest season at The Newt in Somerset is a time for cyder tours highlighting new vintages from the Cyder Cellar and chef’s dinners showcasing the fruits of the gardeners’ hard work throughout the previous months. This summer and throughout the country’s lockdown, the team took for the first time to arable farming, with the hotel’s chefs joining the gardeners in sowing produce.
Making the most of these freshly picked ingredients, new dishes in the Garden Café now include chargrilled corn risotto with crispy chicken skin, barbecued beetroot and smoked wood pigeon or estate venison with preserved blackberries foraged by the chefs from the nearby woodland. Of course, this food philosophy isn’t just limited to the autumn harvest. The Newt practices a food steps rather than food miles ethos, with everything from porcini growing in the Mushroom House to hazelnuts ripening in the Nuttery adding to what’s cultivated here throughout the year.
Heckfield Place, Hampshire
Farm-to-table dining is a part of the experience at Heckfield Place. So much so, the hotel has its own farm where all the sowing and harvesting for the hotel’s restaurants takes place. Through this self-sustaining endeavour, the hotel grows its own wheat, barley and spelt, while rearing livestock such as Guernsey cows, saddleback pigs, chicken and sheep, and cultivating seasonal fruit, herbs and vegetables in the five-acre Market Garden.
A purpose-built dairy then produces milk, butter, cream and yoghurt, with the plan to eventually also make cheese. These ingredients feature on the menus of Skye Gyngell restaurants, Hearth and Marle, while flowers grown at Home Farm decorate the hotel’s rooms. The Glass House offers afternoon tea in the verdant surroundings of the upper walled garden and the Moon Bar serves drinks integrating infusions made from these fresh ingredients.
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons
When Raymond Blanc runs a hotel, you know it’s going to excel in its culinary offering. Part of what makes this hotel’s cuisine so special is the use of ingredients grown in the verdant estate’s lush gardens. Garden-to-plate menus focusing on provenance and seasonality feature in dishes like risotto of garden vegetables and herbs and spiced duck breast with cherry and almond.
The Gardening School then provides insight into growing your own food along with exploration of the manor’s 11 gardens and orchards. Courses in The Raymond Blanc Cookery School bring these ingredients and the chef’s recipes together, and a stay at the Oxfordshire hotel combines enjoyment of these gardens and the restaurant’s two-Michelin-starred food with the luxury of its individually designed guestrooms.
Gleneagles’ houses an impressive collection of dining venues, from casual fare at The Dormy, Birnam Brasserie and Garden Café to fine dining at The Strathearn and two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Andrew Fairlie. Overseen by executive chef Simon Attridge, the kitchen here takes pride in forging close relationships with small Scottish suppliers from the local area.
Ingredients grown in the kitchen garden then complement this seasonal produce while also providing inspiration for inventive cocktails. After spending some time out in the sprawling gardens of this 850-acre estate, you can get to know the flavours of what’s grown here in one of the dining venues. Try Franco-Scottish dishes like Orkney scallops with Jerusalem artichoke at The Strathearn or book a table at restaurant Andrew Fairlie for signature plates such as home smoked Scottish lobster with a lime and herb butter or wild mushroom and truffle ravioli with white bean velouté.