River Cottage Winchester
What a gem of a place! We’ve always admired River Cottage and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall but as Axminster is a little far to go for lunch or dinner, we’ve never visited. On a recent trip down the south coast, we realised that there is a River Cottage Winchester. On further research, we found out that there are four canteens (as they are called) which expand the reach of River Cottage, outside the west of the country.
We booked a table for lunch at River Cottage Winchester and it didn’t disappoint.
Winchester’s River Cottage Canteen is set in the old Abbey Mill right in the heart of Winchester’s town centre. You actually have to walk through the beautiful Abbey Mill Gardens to gain access. It was a beautiful day, so we ambled through the gardens, admiring the river and the beautiful lawned gardens before entering the grade II listed building that now plays host to the restaurant.
The restaurant proffers freshly prepared locally produced food, which are not only organic but seasonal too. The menu sounded delicious.
The atmosphere was very relaxed, we were seated alongside a number of multi-generational families and groups who were also there to enjoy a relaxed lunch. By the looks of it, they were very accommodating for the little ones, with an abundance of high chairs ready to seat them.
We were seated quickly, offered a large jug of water and our order was promptly taken.
The building is beautiful inside and out. It’s rustic and they have decorated it sympathetically to its original use, with thick ropes holding open bulbs and lots of exposed wood.
So on to the food. For starters, I opted for the slow cooked cauliflower, yoghurt, cumin and flat bread. It was a bit like a chunky cauliflower pate and I really enjoyed it. My other half went for the leek, potato and wild garlic soup with crème fraiche. It was served with a big hunk of bread. He wolfed it down.
For main I chose the Hampshire ham hock hash (try saying that fast five times!) which came with pickled cabbage and a Kings Somborne fried egg. The dish was truly scrumptious. It was good classic cooking, with a modern and local twist. I ate every mouthful and thoroughly enjoyed it. Although I did feel very stuffed afterwards!
The other main was a Harissa spiced pulled lamb bap with red cabbage slaw, celeriac and mint remoulade and rosemary chips. That too was super-tasty – I know, I tried a bit!
We didn’t have room for desserts, after all it was just supposed to be lunch and we did have a drive afterwards back home to Kent. I gladly was the passenger, so I can confess that I had forty winks in the car, full of delicious home cooked British fare.
I’d highly recommend River Cottage Winchester. Our bill came to just under £35, which I admit is a little indulgent for us for lunch, but it was well worth it.
If you are in Winchester I would suggest checking the restaurant out. If we are staying in the city, we’ll definitely be back to try out their dinner menu too.
There are River Cottage Canteens in Axminster, Bristol, Plymouth as well as Winchester.
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