Out in the sticks, a few miles north of Taunton, you will find Lower Clavelshay Farm. Ok, nothing unusual there because after all we are in rural Somerset, aren’t we?
However, within this farm, you will find a gastronomic delight called Clavelshay Barn restaurant. And yes, as the name would suggest, it is in a barn (converted).
Farmer’s wife Sue Milveton manages the restaurant, whilst husband William and his two sons take care of this busy and productive farm. Interestingly, Sue told me that when started this rural eatery almost 11 years ago, the question was posed along the lines of: “How are you going to get people to come to a restaurant in the middle of nowhere?”
Of course any restaurant is only as good, principally, as it’s chef. That’s where Mr Olivier Certain comes in. With his undoubted flair for producing mouthwatering, contemporary tucker, drawing in the punters to ‘the middle of nowhere’ doesn’t appear to have been a problem (it was almost full when my daughter Becky & I visited).
Olivier hails from Marseille on the fabulous Cote d’Azur in the sunny, south of France. His culinary pedigree is impressive, having worked in the Michelin starred La Bonne Etape Chateau Arnoux and also Les Roches in Le Lavandou.
And right here in the Westcountry, Olivier served time as Sous Chef to Andrew Dixon in Porlock Weir, before moving on to the popular and now well established Woods Bar and Restaurant in Dulverton.
Starters and mains ordered, we sat happily ensconced at our table, quaffing a lovely light 2013 Riesling and munching rather tasty Habas Fritas (roasted broad beans). A neat little idea indeed – I mean, who would have thought you could do something so interesting with the good old broad bean?
Soon the waitress was making a beeline for our table with plates in hand. I opted for the Dorset Cured Meats, Rocket Salad, Blushed Tomatoes with Truffle Oil. This little beauty on a dish was comprised of two types of salami, coppa, serrano ham, pickled garlic, artichokes and sun blushed tomatoes.
Across the table, Becky’s Smoked Salmon Terrine, Seared Lyme Bay Scallop, Herb Salad, Radish with a drizzle of Vanilla Curried Oil was akin to a piece of art and definitely earned her seal of approval! This evening was most decidedly looking up…
Round two came in the form of the Clavelshay Farm Home-reared Rose Veal Stew with Root Vegetables, Bacon and some lovely ‘Joe’s’ Sourdough Bread. The deliciously tender chunks of veal were sat in meaty, flavoursome gravy that was simply outstanding. It was like being hit with a flavour tsunami actually.
If cooking is all about the flavours as celebrity chef Gary Rhodes would often tell us, then Olivier scored 10/10 in my book with this treat. Sue tells me the veal comes from their own farm. I guess it doesn’t come any fresher or local than that.
Becky on the other hand tucked into the Oven Roasted Supreme of Free-range Chicken, Fondant Potato, Kale in a delightful Bourguignon Garnish. Olivier told me that he very proud of his take on this very French sauce, and rightfully so.
By now Clavelshay was full of lots of satisfied customers, succumbing to the chef’s culinary magic. For us, we were approaching the final furlong: dessert! This came in the form of a Rich Chocolate Delice and for Becky, the Tasting of Lemon which was comprised of: Posset, Iced Parfait, Curd, Raspberry Coulis and Meringue.
I have to say that I am a Chocolate Delice newbie, but having tasted this, I shall now be on the lookout for this sweet textured delight. Beautifully chocolatey and accompanied by a zesty orange ice cream. Becky’s dish was pretty much all scraped clean as was mine; , it was a great end to the night.
Next time you’re in that neck of the woods, why not book a table pay a visit? I guarantee, you won’t be disappointed.
Contact details are:
Address: Lower Clavelshay Farm, North Petherton, Taunton TA6 6PJ
Tel: 01278 662 629