Winding our way through the beautiful, rural Cotswolds, we found Todenham Manor Farm complete with its group of seven glass dining houses facing the rolling hills beyond.
If you looked carefully you could see deer in the nearby fields, geese continually flew overhead and ducks quacked happily.
We had arrived at The Scenic Supper experience, near Chipping Norton, perched in a field with some of the most breathtaking views possible, ready to welcome us and the countryside in all its glory provided the backdrop for what was to be a sumptuous six course meal and an evening to remember.
Dining outside in April comes with its own set of challenges of course, but the glasshouses have doors, rugs and a heater. It was only when we’d finished the cheeseboard that it got a bit chilly, the perfect time to hasten our departure. But as the summer beckons so will the temperatures, and such is The Scenic Supper’s popularity it may be a while before you can book a table anyway.
But with a new lunch time slot now available, and the next round of bookings being released on June 1, the early bird catches the worm!
The Scenic Supper is the brainchild of three local school friends Toby Baggott, Sam Lawson-King and Scott Sullivan who all had their own hospitality businesses pre-lockdown; and decided to launch this socially distanced dining experience for 2-4 people using small, re-conditioned glasshouses.
The results are spectacular, and throw newly appointed head chef Samuel Idoine into the mix and The Scenic Supper’s ‘Farm to Fork’ ethos – sourcing and showcasing the Cotswolds’ finest fresh produce – we knew we were in for a treat.
Charming, quirky, clean and professional, the entire experience from start to finish was a treat. The set menu changes monthly meaning you don’t have to deliberate for hours about what to have. There is however a veggie/vegan menu alongside the meat, so we had one of each to really showcase what they could do.
Starting off with a rhubarb and ginger gin shrub cocktail, we both enjoyed the first course brought to the door and placed on the table – Vale of Evesham asparagus, cured egg yolk and wild garlic on Cotswold sourdough.
You can imagine how fresh the asparagus was, the cured egg yolk mayonnaise perfectly offsetting it. The only problem was the table was rather small and the sourdough rather hard to manoeuvre but we managed to eat it all without any mishaps.
Then the English rabbit with glazed carrot, dill and camomile broth or the beer braised onion, fermented barley and onion broth, theatrically poured onsite and bucolically simple in both cases – easy to imagine it was all sourced from the land right in front of us.
This was particularly true of the sweet and sour tomatoes, tomato consommé and basil which was delicate and pretty as a picture, the spring flavours bursting through. (See our Instagram posts for the video). By now we’d moved on to one of the nicest rose wines I’ve ever tried – a Diamarine Provence that has had me googling hard since to nab some for myself.
But the fourth course really set the scene for what Sam was capable of – the Cotswold lamb neck (tender but packed with flavour), potato galette (crunchy on the outside, soft within), artichoke and shallot puree (heavenly) and spring onion.
The veggie option was as earthy – charred potato, potato puree, morels and tarragon which had a depth of flavour worthy of its surroundings.
The portion sizes were always spot on, just enough to keep us wanting more so that we had an appetite for each dish, presented synchronously along the row of glass houses.
Dessert came in the form of a rhubarb, ginger curd, meringue and rhubarb sorbet, another game changer for me. Ginger curd was a first and perfectly matched the tart rhubarb and sweetness of the meringue, a masterclass in taste and texture.
Could we manage cheese? All local, served with Peters Yard black crackers? Yes please. We savoured the intricacies of each, my favourite the Rollright and Ashcombe from King Stone Dairy, his the Oxford Blue and Double Gloucester.
By now the fairy lights had been switched on and our meal reluctantly drew to a natural close. All around us the glass houses were lit up, their inhabitants gathering their things as unwillingly as us.
A night to remember and a brilliant concept. One can only imagine that longer days and more sunshine will ensure that The Scenic Supper is a virtual sell out but I am reliably informed that there is still lots of availability throughout June and July for four of an evening and further capacity for lunches. The August Experiences go on sale from June 1.
Five course monthly-changing set dinner menu is £65pp and the three course, monthly changing set lunch menu is served on Fridays and Saturdays from 12.30pm and costs £50pp.To book your Scenic Supper experience go to https://www.thescenicsupper.co.uk