Coombeshead Farm: Review
You’ve all heard of Pitt Cue Co., right? Of course you have – it’s one of the best barbecue restaurants in London. It all started in a street food truck under the Hungerford Bridge before going permanent in a tiny and perpetually rammed corner space on Newburgh Street. Now, it’s a shiny, guns-blazing meat temple in The City.
Did you also know that one of the founders of Pitt Cue Co., Tom Adams, is now running a restaurant and farm in Cornwall? Yep. He found himself particularly enamoured with Mangalitza pigs, you see – a Hungarian breed that’s curly of hair and fatty of flesh and has become something of a trend on London plates in recent years. Now Tom is breeding them down South.
His place is called Coombeshead Farm, and it’s basically a food paradise, providing you like meat and, more specifically, very fatty pork. We do. Tom has now restored the former dairy farm along with the Michelin-starred chef April Bloomfield (the latter known for her nose-to-tail approach to cooking).
It’s beautiful, with the main cottage feeling like you’re basically living in your dream house, particularly if you take over the place with a group, as we did. It’s hard to imagine a time of year when it wouldn’t be welcoming – we went in summer when sun was streaming through windows and we went gallivanting in fields, picking our welly-clad feet across streams. In winter, though, the huge, squishy sofas in front of open fires are the perfect place to huddle like pigeons on a roost.
You don’t have to stay here (others who weren’t joined for dinner only) but we can’t recommend the rooms or hospitality highly enough. The cottage is furnished in pure country house retreat style, from the boar’s head on the landing (cigar in mouth) to the rustic dining room with sheepskins draped over chairs, and the drawing room with its honesty bar (yes) and cigar box. There’s rhubarb gin in the rooms, plus homemade fudge. Fat shortbread biscuits are ever-present in communal areas. Oh and there’s barely a moment when you’re not offered a snack or a drink.
So, what of the dinner? Well. Course after course of fermented, pickled and preserved tidbits sit alongside glorious rich pieces of what is arguably some of the finest pork in the world. Much is foraged, much else produced on site, from the fabulous sunshine-yellow butter to the sourdough with an ultra-crackly crust.
We appreciate the strong and enthusiastic approach to nibbly bits, which arrive all at once, covering the table. Just Opened London has much enthusiasm for this style of eating – not small plates, necessarily, more teeny pots of pickles, dips, spreads and plenty of carbs to pile them onto. We all fell in love with the pickled wild garlic flowers, and gobbled up the cured ham, pig’s head with anise and carrot, beetroot with kefir and parsnip, peas with gooseberry and horseradish… that really is naming just a few of many dishes.
If you don’t stay overnight, you also won’t get the breakfast, and that would be a terrible tragedy because the bacon alone is almost worth the price of booking. It is, quite simply, the most magnificent preparation of pig belly that has ever been or ever will be – a thick, quivering layer of milky fat that melted to nothing but pure joy in the mouth, atop the softest meat, the whole thing sticky with a sweet glaze… please allow us a moment to stare wistfully into the distance.
More of that golden butter and thick-sliced sourdough; granola with rhubarb compote plus fresh orange juice, house-fermented kefir and – wait for it because it’s the best thing ever – STICKY BUNS! A whole skillet of them. Made with lard. Be still our beating hearts (beating for now, that is).
If you want a food-lovers’ holiday and you’re a fan of pork, pickles and fresh air, there really is no better destination than Coombeshead Farm. What’s more, at £100 for the room and breakfast plus £50 for dinner, it’s incredibly good value. You will be overwhelmed by food. One of the best things about it, however, is that it’s genuinely very different from anything else out there – we can’t think of another meal we’ve had that has been so intensely seasonal, focused and produced on site yet presented in such an informal way. It’s rustic, country livin’ at its best. They had to drag us (read: roll us) back to London kicking and screaming.
Coombeshead Farm, Lewannick, Cornwall PL15 7QQ