I have tasted nature before at Clavelshay Barn. The restaurant is situated on a working dairy farm on the Quantocks and no doubt in yesteryear the barn itself was used for livestock or storing produce.
That produce these days can make the same journey from nearby field or garden to plate within minutes and it shows. Chef Phil Verden has all these fresh ingredients singing to each other. This was not just a meal, it was a performance.
We chose a tasting menu of 7 courses, although it was difficult to turn down the slow roasted pork belly with pearl barley risotto and glazed apples that was available on the main menu. Next time.
I’m not often happy in terrine country but Phil’s ham hock and cider version along with nasturtium pesto was a superb combination of light textures and strong flavours. A delicate terrine? Yes, it’s possible.
Sea bass and scallop with butternut squash and sage butter arrived shortly (indeed the service and flow of this banquet was just right) and marine life joined porcine life in being expertly delivered. The squash beautifully moulded the powerful bass and succulent scallop.
Local partridge with wild mushrooms, mashed potatoes and madeira jus took us into the season of long, dark nights and open fires. These courses were beautifully presented and suitably slimmed down in size to give a full tasting experience that steered subtly to the next course, rather than impeding it.
The ensuing Somerset Brie and truffle waldorf would have been worthy of Versailles – it’s too rare that cheese is presented so well and also before the dessert course.
Cherry crème brulee was served kindly in miniature, the finale of toffee apple tart tatin with pumpkin ice cream was not. We took most of that home. Both desserts were remarkable, not least in that they were so natural, which as I said, seems to be the mantra at Clavelshay.
Giles Adams (What's On Somerset)