Doddington Hall Restaurant and Cafe
Caroline Bingham went for lunch at Doddington Hall, looking to enjoy the Kitchen Garden and estate reared produce which are the stars of their menus.
Food miles are a consequence of our appetite for year round availability and variety of foods but pick seasonal, local produce on menus and you will not only be enjoying them at their best but also playing your small part in reducing this impact.
I eat quite regularly in the restaurant at Doddington Hall and always scan the choices to see where estate and KG (Kitchen Garden) are flagged. These ingredients will tick all the boxes of local, traceable, seasonal and fresh. Of course not all elements can be sourced from the estate so there are plenty of credits to other local suppliers too, whose produce is also retailed in the Farm Shop.
The restaurant is next door to the busy café and offers a more spacious rendezvous for a midday leisurely lunch, business meeting or special occasion. Sunday lunches are especially popular serving Lincoln Red beef from the Doddington herd. The room can also be booked for evening private dining.
I had invited a friend to join me and we had lots to catch up on so we agreed to meet early and take our time. We also wanted to browse the Bauble Barn and other shops on the estate before we said our goodbyes.
We began with soft drinks and some of the delicious warm bread served with butter which was delivered on a wooden platter. The menus are prepared not just seasonally but tweaked daily depending on what is available in the gardens or from suppliers. From the choice of five starters I began with Doddington estate beef and pork ‘boerewors’ sausage served with caramalised celeriac and apple and caraway kraut, both KG sourced. My friend chose spiced pumpkin (KG) soup served with Old Winchester toast. Other choices were seared estate pigeon breast, warm whiskey cured salmon and Devonshire crab or chilli and KG rosemary fried polenta chips with foraged mushrooms.
The sausage was intensely meaty, even gamey, true to the recipe’s South African origins, so do not expect a fat content similar to our own county versions. The caramalised celeriac added moisture while the kraut gave acidity and crunch to the dish. The equally autumnal soup was unctuous, warm and satisfying.
From the choice of six main dishes we opted for beer battered haddock served with hand-cut chips, mushy peas and Cajun tartare for my friend and slow-cooked estate pheasant breast and foraged mushroom roly-poly served with cider braised red cabbage and red wine jus for me.
Doddington’s gloriously fresh fish and chips always draws gasps from first-time diners for its scale and wonderful batter and this visit was no exception. It might have been a non seasonal choice but it never disappoints. I am a game lover so could not resist the comfort of the herby roly-poly and the pheasant; excellent combinations of flavours which epitomise the earthiness and richness of the season.
Other mains included pan fried Doddington herd ribeye steak, spelt and barley risotto with pumpkin, chilli and Cote Hill Yellow cheese or Doddington herd burger and hand-cut chips. There are side order options for a supplement but portions are generous.
Time had been passing without us noticing. Nice, relaxed but attentive service and plenty of stories to swap. We did eventually make our decisions on dessert: plenty of KG choices here. There was a chocolate ganache served with whiskey and honey glazed quince but we decided on cinnamon panna cotta, toffee and compressed apple with chocolate and croissant crumb for my friend and fig and almond tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream for me. What was not to like about either of these desserts? Nothing. Both were delicious! There is also a fabulous cheeseboard on offer with a choice of eight artisan cheeses but that would be for another day. We finished our lunch with coffee.
Doddington showcases the best of the kaleidoscope of its own produce and premium local suppliers. The chef has the delicacy of touch to let that produce shine through while adding flair and flavour with his combinations. Now is the perfect time to try Doddington’s autumn dishes and from 26th November until 23rd December there will be a festive Christmas menu to tempt you too.