What could be nicer than lunch out on a sunny summer’s day, but this time, a lunch with a difference.
I emailed my cousin and said something like, “We’re booked to have lunch at the Riverford Field Kitchen. You sit at plain wooden tables usually for 6 or 8 people, whoever is there on the day, and you are served the meal that has been prepared for that day from the produce that is currently available. There is no choice, although they will cater for allergies. It’s mainly vegetarian but there is also a meat dish served. You all arrive for lunch at one o’clock, you should aim to be on time, and you are all served together. Once you’ve had your starter and your main, you are invited up to the kitchen to choose a pudding, two small portions of different puddings, or one large one …”
My cousin sent me a cheeky reply: “It sounds a bit like school dinner to me!”
Riverford Field Kitchen is the latest development at Riverford Organics, formerly known as Riverford Farm. The enterprise was started by Guy Watson over 30 years ago, when Guy started delivering vegetables locally to 30 friends in Devon. They now deliver around 47,000 boxes a week to homes around the UK from their regional farms.
Riverford Field Kitchen
I will quote from their website, as I can’t improve on what they say: “Eating in The Riverford Field Kitchen is something to remember. We think great food tastes even better when you enjoy it with other people, so most of our guests will share tables with fellow diners for a feast of the freshest seasonal produce from our fields.
Uniquely, there is just one sitting and the whole restaurant is served together at the same time.
For lunch we start things off with seasonal salads & vegetable dishes followed by creative vegetable side dishes and one meat dish served to the table for you to pass around and share. Portions are generous and there’ll be plenty to go round. When it comes to pudding, we’ll invite you up to the kitchen to choose from a wickedly tempting selection.”
We left home with 3/4 hour to get there. And thank goodness we did leave a bit of wriggle room because we couldn’t find the place! We are local people and although we don’t have SatNav, we were pretty sure we knew the way! But we took a wrong turning and went miles out of our way. Eventually we returned to the Riverford Farm Shop (now called Ben’s Farm Shop for some reason I’ve yet to discover) and we asked where the Field Kitchen was?
“Oh, lots of people go wrong!” was the reply by a very nice young woman. So if that’s the case, perhaps they should have better signage and clearer instructions, as we’re not that dim, surely?
Never mind, we found it but not before another little hiccup. Husband got locked in the lavatory at the farm shop! The lock was iffy and he couldn’t undo it. So I went to fetch someone with a screwdriver so she could remove the lock, but even that didn’t open the door because the bolt was stuck, so my husband had to shoulder the door to open it – thank goodness, even at his age, he managed it otherwise he’d be in there now.
“I’m so sorry,” said the young woman, “We only had that new lock fitted yesterday!”
Oh dear, perhaps they might do well to get a different locksmith!
Right. Where were we? On the road, now the right road, to the Field Kitchen, which we found a few minutes later. Simple, when you have the right directions and don’t turn off at the turning before the one you require!
I think the sunny weather enhanced the experience, the field kitchen is in the depths of the Devon countryside, it’s quite beautiful, fields all around with wild flowers in the hedges.
We were shown to our table, and met the two other couples we’d be sharing with, and we all introduced ourselves, one couple (a brother and sister) were local, like ourselves, and the others were a married couple on holiday from Hampshire. We had a lovely time chatting to them all, and then our lunch was brought to the table ..
These were the first course items which we enjoyed with sourdough bread. I was enjoying myself so much that I forgot to photograph the main course items, but here is my plate, once I’d helped myself to all that was on offer (I should say the photos above where the plates to serve the table, not my personal portions!)
The main course
The slow roast pork was delicious as was the tart, indeed, it was all very tasty.
Once we had all finished the first two courses we were invited to go up to the kitchen to choose our pudding (or puddings.) What a selection, I think there were nine or ten options, from sticky toffee pudding to pavlova by way of clafoutis and lemon tart, even rice pudding and a delicious-looking chocolate mousse. There was lovely pouring cream and also custard, so I chose a portion of sticky toffee pudding with custard and a small slice of lemon tart.
After our pudding we had coffee, and then it was time to leave.
There is nothing fancy about the place. The tables are simply scrubbed wooden tables and the chairs look like ex-school-classroom chairs, but that all added to the charm, the only decoration being the bunches of dried flowers hanging on the walls.
After saying goodbye to our fellow diners (or should that be “lunchers”) we made our way to Ben’s Farm Shop, formerly the Riverford farm shop, so that I could buy some new season Discovery apples. We found plenty of choice of apples here, including a very old variety called Devonshire Quarrendon, first recorded in Devon in 1678 (they are not shown on the photo below, they are quite small, red apples.)
Apples and pears at Ben’s Farm Shop
Inside Ben’s Farm Shop
And then we made our way back to the main road, through a narrow country lane. For those not familiar with Devon, this is what most country roads look like, or green tunnels as they are sometimes called.
This is the view as we left Totnes, heading towards home. I love the patchwork of fields for which Devon is famous. We’re now into high summer and most of the crops are either ready for harvesting or have been harvested. I think we’d also had the best of the day, by the look of the clouds.
The clouds began to lift and the sun shone once more as we approached home
We didn’t need much supper this evening – just a tomato sandwich and then a lovely new season Discovery apple.
Until next time.