New Farm Restaurant, Over Stratton
It’s in an old farm building and you’ll get a crash course in farming of yesteryear from the walls but there’s nothing olde worlde about the food at the New Farm Restaurant in the village (or is it a hamlet?) of Over Stratton, near Ilminster.
Taste of the West award-winning New Farm Restaurant is a family affair, with chef Jane Bond (who used to cook for company directors up in Canary Wharf), front of house sister Sue, and Jane’s husband Crispin running things behind the scenes (and making the bread rolls). I think there was a son helping out in the kitchen as well, the night we were there. The building itself was once a working farm run by Jane’s family since the 1800s.
Set over two floors, the decor is honest and unpretentious, with lots of farming-related stuff around the place, including some interesting black and white photos of farm labourers (some related to Jane), the contents of Marquis de Sade’s torture cabinet – I mean, some ancient agricultural implements – on the walls, and a giant cow looking down. Did I mention we’re in the countryside?
We ate upstairs, all high ceilings and exposed rafters, with tables set for couples and small groups but it would be perfect for a larger private dinner or event.
Those farm labourers would never have had food like this. Excellent choice of starters: three veggie, two fish/shellfish and one meat. Tempted by the Lyme Bay crab pate but eventually chose the scotch egg (from the hens out back) wrapped in pork and guinea fowl (an unusual twist), served with a rhubarb chutney. Look at the colour of that yolk.
Those hens came up trumps again with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce served atop asparagus (from nearby New Cross Fruit Farm). With a couple of slabs of the still-warm wholemeal fig ciabatta, this would be almost enough for a light supper.
Onto the mains: a choice of eight, with two veggie (a sweet potato and brazil nut pattie and a spanakopita – a spinachy feta in filo, in case you’re wondering), two fish (salmon, turbot) and four meat – steak, duck, pork and this fillet of lamb, sooo pink and succulent – and pretty too, don’t you think?
This is the heartwarming free-range stuffed medallion of pork with a bacon, mushroom and cider cream sauce. I can never get brilliant photos of these kinds of dishes but the pork was tender and the sauce rich and yummy. Both mains served with parsnip fitters, purple sprouting, new pots and carrots.
Could have had any of the five fruity, chocolatey desserts or local cheeseboard. The mango and lime ice cream terrine with raspberry coulis was tangy and creamy at the same time.
There was elderflower too, in that there raspberry, blackberry and strawberry trifle, topped with mini meringues, making it rich and sweet but not sickly.
Service from the softly spoken Sue and the waitress on the night was friendly, unobtrusive and efficient. The Somerset-inspired menu changes monthly but always uses locally sourced ingredients and suppliers where possible (of course), with lots of the veg grown in Jane and Crispin’s own garden. This is a restaurant with a genuine Somerset heart.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Great food in unpretentious surroundings. Take your mum, your best friends, your book group, your partner. Carnivores, vegetarian, pescatarians and those who want gluten-free will all find something to tempt.
Not for: Anyone wanting a riotous night out, this is a quiet, well-mannered place. Not really for children, it’s got an adult feel and menu to match. Don’t expect a glitzy, sophisticated setting.
£££: Very reasonable. Starters £5.90-£7.80; mains £14.50-£20 and desserts all £6.50; cheeseboard £8.50.
New Farm Restaurant is open for evening meals Weds-Sats, from 7pm. They have a Ladies Lunch on the second Wednesday of every month (£14.90 for two courses; try as many desserts as you like!) and they’re open for private lunches Sat and Sunday by arrangement. Check out their speciality gourmet evenings on the first Thursday of the month, including Mexican ( Thurs 4 May), Cuban (Thurs 6 July) and Burmese Gourmet (Thurs 7 Sept). You can also stay overnight in one of their three country-style bedrooms. More details on their website.
New Farm Restaurant, Over Stratton, South Petherton, TA13 5LQ. Tel 01460 240584. newfarmrestaurant.co.uk