Paul Critcher visits Garson’s farm in Surrey and experiences and enjoys the freshest food possible from field to fork
‘Provenance’ has become one of those foodie buzz words that are bandied about at the drop of a hat, but my recent visit to the new restaurant at Garsons gave me the opportunity to see food at its freshest. This is a restaurant offering ‘plant to plate’ dining where you can look out over the fields where some of the ingredients you are eating have been grown.
For the uninitiated, Garsons is one of the UK’s biggest Pick Your Own farms and is located just outside Esher, next to the quintessential English village (complete with cricket pitch) of West End. For me, picking strawberries evokes wonderful memories of childhood. I can still vividly remember hunting out those hidden gems of fruit on hazy summer days when cares were free and days were happy.
Today’s Garsons retains that idyllic rural atmosphere, while at the same time offering much more besides and the modern restaurant is a light-filled cathedral to food. Designed by Malcolm Scott Architects, the 300-seat restaurant is covered by a glass-filled, steel-framed roof that is a nod to Garsons’ rich heritage supplying the greengrocers of Borough Market. Outside there are more seats, overlooking the strawberry fields and a children’s play area currently being built.
Service is slick and easy. You order at the counter and the hot food is made to order and delivered to your table, with waiters able to locate where you are through the use of high-tech trackers – no lowtech numbered wooden spoons here! As for the food, it’s a varied and interesting menu that comprises classic favourites (such as fish and chips and macaroni cheese) with modern dishes such as lemon and thyme chicken. We plumped for a mixed platter that gave us a taste of several dishes including smoked salmon and cream cheese, mini burgers, macaroni cheese and tandoori chicken wrap. The food was fresh and tasty – way above your average garden centre. This is quality food. My main course of pulled ham and cheese sourdough toasty, served with house salad and chips was delicious – a real appetite-appeasing dish that was packed with flavour.
Overall, the restaurant makes for a great addition to the beautiful fruit and flower fields, revamped garden centre and organic farm shop. It’s the perfect family outing and a wonderful place to spend time making foodie memories of your own.