Celebrate the most abundant season of the year with a trip to one of these summery cafes. Each one is set within or beside a garden and makes the most of the surrounding produce, including dishes like pork, apple and smoked mushroom terrine with fermented piccalilli, and lemon, lavender and blueberry loaf
Wiveton Hall, Norfolk
Forget surf and turf. At Wiveton Hall Friday nights from the end of May until October are all about Beef and Reef. That’s Aberdeen Angus steaks from Duncan Jeary in Briston and crab and lobster landed at Weybourne. On the north Norfolk coast, between Cley-next-the-Sea and Blakeney, this 17th-century Dutch-gabled Jacobean manor house has a colourful café in the grounds along with a pick-your-own fruit farm and Art Barn showcasing local artists’ work. The café looks over the marshes to the sea and is surrounded by strawberry fields.
For lunch you can tuck into a bowl of Binham Blue and cauliflower soup with hazelnut dukkah or a grilled Sheringham sea bass. The Wiveton Salad is your five-a-day in one with grated courgette, pumpkin seeds, cauliflower tabbouleh, tomatoes with basil, potato salad, wheatberry and lentils with preserved lemon and sumac, coleslaw, mixed leaves and carrot with poppy seeds. Before you leave, swing by the farm shop to stock up on veg from the garden and the hall’s homemade jams, marmalades and chutneys.
Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, Cornwall
The pasties are from Penzance but the rest of the dishes rustled up in the kitchen of the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery café are made on site and showcase the best, fresh Cornish produce – much of it from the adjacent gardens. The chic wood-paneled café, with views of Fowey Valley and Restormel castle, is a picturesque setting for a lunch of freshly grilled mackerel or an open crab sandwich with a glass of Camel Valley sparkling wine.
Or indulge in a Cornish cream tea – with a brew from nearby tea estate, Tregothnan. In the winter months you can hole up here by a blazing fire and warm yourself with a bowl of creamy smoked haddock chowder.
The Ethicurean, Somerset
The Barley Wood Walled Garden is a lovingly restored Victorian kitchen garden in Somerset. Created in 1901 it has views across Wrington Vale and the Mendip Hills. Today, gardener Mark Fox tends the beds of veg, much of it packed with heritage and heirloom varieties, for the site’s rustic restaurant, set in an old glasshouse.
Think church chairs and long tables where you can tuck into dishes such as celeriac and chestnut soup with English truffle oil or pork, apple and smoked mushroom terrine with fermented piccalilli and winter leaves. During the evenings, from Wednesdays to Saturdays, book in for the Full Feast, a five-course gourmet extravaganza (Tuesday nights are vegetarian). All the meat is free range or wild, and they press apple juice and cider from the 80 types of old English apples grown in the orchard.
The Secret Herb Garden, Edinburgh
On the edge of Edinburgh, huddled beneath the Pentland Hills, the Secret Herb Garden is a seven and a half-acre oasis ringed by hedgerows with a stream tumbling through it. You can while away an afternoon here meandering among the plants, learning about their culinary and medicinal uses, breathing in the heady aromas and sipping a cup of tea or enjoying a slice of lemon, lavender and blueberry loaf in the glasshouse or cafe.
Even traditional tea and coffee has been given a herbal makeover, however. Pekoe Teas has created three Earl Grey varieties with the garden’s own bergamot: Duchess Grey with lemon verbena, Scots Grey with heather flowers and Earl Grey with cornflowers. The coffee has also had a herbal injection: Sumatra Mandheling beans blended on site with the garden’s roasted elderberries. There’s a shop selling all things herbie and they also run courses on beekeeping, candle-making, foraging and growing herbs.
Worton Organic Garden, Oxford
At Worton Organic Garden in Oxfordshire they ‘speak vegetable’. Gardeners Anneke (Dutch) and David (Australian) Blake work the seven-acre market garden just five miles outside Oxford growing everything from Chinese cucumbers to African squash and Chinese herbs.
They’re Soil Association certified, the droppings from the hens, bantams and guinea fowl help to fertilise the soil and their eggs sold in the farm shop. Open Friday to Sunday, year round, you can also pick up homemade organic rye, white and wholemeal sourdough breads after relaxing in the café. Sit inside, in front of the woodburner, with a bowl of homemade soup or something more substantial, or outside amongst the plant pots on the terrace with a slice of homemade cake.
Written by Lucy Gillmore, June 2016
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