Doddington Hall, Doddington
My visit could not have been more perfectly timed; news had just been announced that within a week Doddington Hall had been named as the winner of not one but three national awards.
The first accolade was being announced as FARMA’s Farm Restaurant and Café of the Year 2015. These increasingly prestigious awards recognise the best of the best farm retailers and places Doddington alongside previous elite winners such as Chatsworth Farm Shop and Daylesford Organic Farm Shop.
Secondly, two 2015 Hudson’s Heritage Awards were scooped; in the Best Innovation category for its pyramid folly and Best Shopping category for its Farm Shop, India Jane Interiors Store including Farrow & Ball and Doddington Country Clothing.
My visit on this occasion was to the restaurant for lunch. I have to confess that this was far from being the first time I have eaten here. As luck would have it, Doddington Hall is only just along the road from our Lincoln offices.
The cafe is a great rendezvous to meet friends and it’s impossible to wander through the Farm Shop without taking home some of its tempting food and drink.
The restaurant is accessed through the cafe and housed in an elegantly converted barn. Despite only being separated by a doorway, the restaurant is always more tranquil and definitely a less bustling space in which to have a relaxed lunch and talk. I nearly always book ahead just to be sure of a table.
Food is freshly prepared to order but service is always friendly and prompt. Delicious home made bread with flavoured butter is served after you place your order. The menu gives credit to the estate and especially the Kitchen Garden, which has been cultivated since the Elizabethan hall was built, as the source of many of the ingredients in the dishes. The herd of Lincoln Red Cattle provide flavoursome steaks and beef for the Doddington Burger; herbs, vegetables and fruit are from the garden; game from the estate; even Doddington grown citrus fruits are showcased in the lemon posset dessert.
The head chef describes his dishes as simple yet sophisticated. The art is in taking simple, fresh ingredients and making them special. The estate is such an asset for delivering year-round produce at its best and the menu changes reflect these seasons and availability.
So what did I have for lunch on this visit? I began with roasted tomato bread with olives but my starter was chargrilled chicory served with orange, goat’s cheese bon bon and Kitchen Garden herb oil. I thoroughly enjoyed these great flavour combinations. Other options included spiced cauliflower and chickpea salad or pan-fried partridge breast, soup of the day or a tian of Devon crab.
My main course was a Doddington Lincoln Red Steak, served with artichoke puree, spinach, confit potato and rosemary crème fraîche. The steak was perfectly aged and cooked rare as requested. This is a steak lover’s treat. Other choices included Doddington’s celebrated fish and chips, pan roasted hake fillet, swede and celeriac broth with puy lentils and cheddar cheese drop scones, a Lincoln Red burger or chickpea falafel.
It is unusual for me to have three courses for lunch but for the sake of you, dear readers, I relented. The lemon posset was creamy, tangy, smooth and delicious served with fennel biscotti and raspberry. Equally tempting was vanilla panna cotta with pink rhubarb, blood orange mousse or Kiwi and passion fruit soufflé.
Dishes which are starred on the menu are part of the Lunch for Less selection; excellent value at £12.95 for one course, £15.95 for two and £18.95 for three.
The restaurant is also open on Friday and Saturday evenings. Fish Supper Friday does make a concession by offering dishes from the main menu for non seafood lovers. A more recent innovation has been Saturday Night Seven; a tasting menu of dishes showcasing seasonal, estate and local produce.
Claire and James Birch have grown the experience for visitors to Doddington Hall at a significant pace in the ten years since they took over the estate from Claire’s father, Antony Jarvis and there is no doubt that we now have one of the best heritage attractions in the country on our doorstep. Do go along to taste that experience.