A Day Trip to Soho Farmhouse

I seem to know a lot of people who are a member of Soho House… which means I hear a lot about Soho Farmhouse, the group’s countryside retreat in Oxfordshire. Last week, finally, I had the opportunity to visit this much-loved property for a day exploring the facilities.

Soho Farmhouse

Driving in through the grand entrance gates I was struck by the sheer size of the estate. 40 cabins, a four-bedroom cottage and a seven-bedroom farm house are set amongst 100 acres of lovely English countryside. Once inside the Soho Farmhouse gates, the most difficult decision you’ll make is where to enjoy your morning cappuccino.

The spa is particularly spectacular, with an indoor pool and heated outdoor pool, steam room and sauna, high-tech gym and a wide range of Cowshed spa treatments.

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There are numerous spaces for relaxing and working, and I can only imagine how the outdoor areas come to life in the summer. We sat for a while in the main barn, where the sofas are topped with plumb velvet pillows, there are cosy log fires offering warmth and staff are on hand to bring you whatever beverage or snack you desire. I also loved the Farmshop & Deli, a perfectly quaint space with tiled floors, delicious delicacies and wholesome lunch options.

Soho FarmhouseSoho Farmhouse

I spent a while wandering outside too… as guests rode by on their branded bicycles I went to say “hello” to the horses at the stables and visited the greenhouse and gardens. Kids can roam free in the Soho Farmhouse grounds, and with so many different activities there is always something to entertain them.

Soho Farmhouse

Hungry from the intake of fresh country air, we headed back to the Main Barn for lunch, though I was tempted by the Japanese cuisine at Pen Yen. The food is simple, wholesome and comforting, whether you want something indulgent like the house cheeseburger, or prefer to choose from the healthy salads and soups. We nearly opted for the Spit roast Springfield Farm chicken for two with pork stuffing and potato & onion bake (which felt fitting in these surroundings) but decided to choose an assortment of dishes from the main a la carte menu… wood oven margarita pizza, wonderfully creamy burrata and delicious charred roasted cauliflower with onion.

Sadly, after lunch it was time to return to reality and drive back to London, but not before a quick pitstop at Bicester Village… just 15 minutes drive from Soho Farmhouse. It is yet another reason to stay at this British countryside sanctuary.

More information and book a stay at Soho Farmhouse here.

Spuntino, Soho

Many people walk straight past Spuntino, the little American diner from Russell Norman’s Polpo team on Rupert Street. This prohibition style eatery is found in a beautiful yet grungy room, the original tiles on the wall indicate its history… the waitress told us it was once a butcher. There are 27 bar stools and a couple of booths for cosy group dining, we squeezed into the two places nearest the window.

SpuntinoSpuntino

Despite only just turning noon, cocktails seemed like a good idea… the menu of classic drinks were just too tempting. I tried the Spuntino old fashioned, flavoured with a hint of cherry. As we sipped our cocktails and nibbled on spicy popcorn I noticed how many regulars there were coming in and filling up the seats around us. For those in the know, Spuntino is a local favourite.

SpuntinoSpuntino

I’m not sure the menu has changed much since Spuntino opened in 2011. There are a range of decadent American treats, from sliders and sandwiches, salads and sharing plates. We let our waitress choose the best bits, and added on a few extras.

Highlights included: Eggplant chips (soft and gooey inside with a crisp crunchy outer edge and served with fragrant fennel yoghurt), the Classic Hamburger (thick well-seasoned ground beef patty topped with melted cheese and the sweet and spicy house ketchup) and the Spinach and Ricotta and Chickpea slider (the perfect textured vegetarian option with a hint of garlic and spice).

The only real disappointment was the Butternut and rainbow chard salad which was so oily that it was heavy and unpleasant to eat.

Spuntino

For dessert we shared the Brooklyn Toast. It was divine, a kind of caramelised crunchy French toast with homemade Nutella ice-cream sandwiched in between. A nice mix of salty and sweet flavours and a satisfying contrast of textures. Yum.

The Spuntino team recently opened a second site in Bristol. You can find the restaurant inside a converted shipping container at Wapping Wharf, the newest foodie area of town.

More information about Spuntino here.

Bohemia Restaurant, Jersey

Bohemia restaurant has a reputation which extends much further than the Channel Islands. This prestigious eatery has been awarded a Michelin star for 13 consecutive years, holds 5 AA Rosettes and has been ranked as the 11th best restaurant in the UK by the Good Food Guide 2018. Needless to say, it is the first stop for foodies when they arrive on the island of Jersey.

BohemiaBohemia

Found within the Club Hotel and Spa, I was initially quite confused by this restaurant’s setting. Tucked away in the corner of the ground floor, food of this calibre would shine more in a stand-alone environment. Nevertheless, we quickly settled into a table and started perusing the different set menu choices. Chef Steven Smith and his team focus on provenance of ingredients, and aim to create imaginative dishes with Jersey’s abundant fresh produce.

Warm bread from the oven and seaweed butter soon arrived, smelling and tasting wonderful. We both chose a glass of wine from the prestigious list, a glass of crisp Pouilly-Fumé, Marielle Michot 2016 and a rich structured red, Château Le Pey, Cru Bourgeois, Medoc 2014.

BohemiaBohemia

There are a variety of tasting menus on offer to suit every occasion. If you’ve got the time, opt for the prestige menu to try a range of the kitchen’s finest creations. We visited at lunchtime and chose three courses each. To start we had the Slow Cooked Bantham Egg, Celery & Celeriac, Ham & Truffle and Jerusalem Artichoke with Coffee & Apple. The Egg was comforting and indulgent, a small bowl of gooey egg topped with rich celeriac velouté. An accompanying bite-sized ham hock on toast added texture and saltiness to the dish. My vegetarian plate of food showcased the humble Jerusalem artichoke, which had a lovely caramelised taste and was paired with sharp apple and buttery kale.

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Main courses at Bohemia are big in size and bold in taste. Venison Loin & Ragout, Beetroot & Blackberry, Grand Veneur had a wintery flavour, but though the meat was beautifully cooked the combination of beetroot and blackberry with the strong gamey Grand Veneur sauce was slightly overpowering. The Lamb Loin & Braised, Cevennes Onion, Vacherin & Rosemary was a glorious homage to lamb, cooked in a variety of ways, every mouthful was divine, and I loved the addition of herbaceous rosemary and rich vacherin cheese.

BohemiaBohemia

The simple dessert descriptions gave little away… Pop Corn Parfait, Caramel, Lime and Spiced Apple & Blackberry. The popcorn pudding was fun and inventive, with different elements each giving different flavours and textures. The acidic lime sorbet counteracted the saccarine sweet parfait and crystallised popcorn pieces. The apple and blackberry was an elegant depiction of this classic British flavour pairing. Delicate and subtle it was a lovely palate cleanser to end our meal at Bohemia.

Though the atmosphere was lacking at this famous Jersey restaurant, the food more than lived up to expectation, and I can imagine it is a very popular place for special meals on the island.

More information and book a table at Bohemia here.