Review: Scrumpy House, Westons Cider, Much Marcle
PUBLISHED: 14:02 30 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:25 20 February 2013
Martin Griffiths visits Scrumpy House at Westons Cider in Much Marcle and finds flavour-packed food that tastes as good as it looks.
Late one night, around a year ago, I had to call in at Westons Scrumpy House restaurant to pick up some information on their recently launched organic cider. Although it was past 10.30 and the kitchen had closed, the chef was still happy to make me a coffee and discovering I hadnt eaten since lunch, even offered to knock me up an omelette. I was therefore delighted to revisit such a friendly and hospitable place to try out the full menu Westons is one of the countys premier makers of fine ciders and perry and its restaurants menu reflects its unique setting and heritage.
Chef Chris Murphy certainly sets out to make good use of local produce, however there is a pretty eclectic range on offer and as I discovered, you can also find great fish in the countryside these days. The restaurant is sited in one of the old stables and retains much of its rustic charm and character. There are beams, old polished red bricks on the floor and the photographs on the wall trace the Weston familys long involvement with cider making.
The restaurant thoughtfully blends the old with the new. While one wall is almost all glass to allow you to look out onto a pretty garden and terrace, the dining chairs are a charming mix of old country styles. The careful blending of the traditional and the contemporary is reflected in a menu which is regularly updated according to the season and the produce, which Chris can find locally. When I visited, he had just acquired some rare Worcestershire Black Pears from Suckley and was starting to invent novel ways of cooking with them.
Our dinner started with Mrs G opting for a smooth chicken and duck liver pat served with some lightly toasted Levain bread. The pat was exceptionally light but packed full of flavour and accompanied by a delicious plum chutney. I chose Chriss crab bisque. Friends of mine from Ledbury Bowls Club had tried it recently and had raved about it. (Quite right too.) It was velvety smooth, packed full of deep flavours and had a good kick of Tabasco. Served with a tower of delicately cut croutons and crab meat it really got the taste buds going and as Mrs G said was an ideal starter on a cold winters night.
Presentation is simple and appealing; this is food, which looks good enough to eat but is cooked to be eaten, not just looked at. For a main course I couldnt resist the pork sausages made with the addition of Westons Old Rosie Cider served with a potato mash and an uncompromisingly full- flavoured onion, mustard and cider sauce. The sausages were firm and meaty and the slight fruitiness given to the meat by the cider went perfectly. Its the sort of food you want to eat after a long country walk or hard days gardening.
Mrs G meanwhile was quietly tucking into her beautiful Red Norwegian haddock served with a crab and prawn risotto. When Mrs G is this quiet, its usually due to good food, a good book or because Ive promised to cook dinner and its gone cold because Ive spent too long taking photographs of it. On this occasion it was due to the sublime tastes of the perfectly cooked fish and yet another of Chriss excellent sauces. Chris spent part of his early career working with the head chef from The Dorchester and his sophisticated sauces certainly reflect this.
Pudding brought more delights. I opted for the crme brle, which was superb and as good as any Ive tasted while Mrs G had the iced strawberry parfait with cider syrup. Whether it was a touch too sweet was a matter of some discussion. I felt it needed a bit of sharpness for balance but Mrs G loved it and as our friendly waitress said: Its one of the ladies favourites. Chef Chris smiled, raised a knowing, Roger Moorestyle eyebrow and gave a little shrug. I still preferred the brle, but sometimes you have to know when to give in and go and order the coffee!
Scrumpy House offers excellent food and service at sensible prices. The enticing Christmas menu looks spectacularly good value for money and you can also book a tour of the cidermaking site before eating. Its also worth trying cider with your meal or some of their delicious light sparkling perry. The service is attentive without being overbearing and our fellow diners were certainly well looked while also being allowed time to relax and chat. Its the sort of place where you can take pleasure in eating without feeling you cant put an elbow on the table for fear of destroying the designers look. It may be rustic in situation but the flavours are sophisticated and honest and simply scrumptious.
Scrumpy House Restaurant
Westons Cider, The Bounds,