I met Chef Roger Jones and his charming wife Sue at 96 Winery Road earlier this year, when Chef Roger cooked his Tasting Menu, the first meal I had eaten prepared by a one star Michelin star restaurant chef. The Harrow at Little Bedwyn has maintained its one Michelin star for the past ten years, and is a large stockist of South African wines.
I was weary of the two-hour Uber journey to Little Bedwyn, not feeling well at all, but as I’d let Chef Roger down with another booking he had made for me for a London restaurant, I was determined to travel to Little Bedwyn.
I received a warm and welcoming hug from Sue, and she looked after me, seeing that I wasn’t feeling well. I sat outside in the garden, enjoying the colourful English garden, and the butterflies, drinking water, and trying to recover, but had to move inside soon as it was a very hot day. Sue showed me to the table, which had a very generous eleven course Tasting Menu waiting for me. I had to decline the wine pairings which were part of the Tasting Menu, due to not feeling well.
Little Bedwyn is a tiny village, as its name implies. The Harrow restaurant building consists of two separate dining rooms, and one can eat outside in the garden too. Walls are painted beige, there was a fireplace in the room in which I ate, and a bar counter in the second dining room.
Tables are covered with table cloths, and have napkins, as well as Olympia stainless steel cutlery. A ceramic olive oil holder, and Perspex salt and pepper grinders were on the table too. Chairs are highback brown leather.
Staff wear black The Harrow at Little Bedwyn aprons, with Riedel branding too, the glassware being on display in the second dining room.
From the website the prices at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn are £30 for a five-course Set Menu lunch, with £15 extra for wine pairings, and £25 extra for iconic wines; the six course Tasting Menu costs £50, with an additional £25 for wine pairings, and £40 for iconic wine pairings; £75 is the cost of the 8-course Gourmet Menu, with £50 for wine pairings, and an additional £100 for Coravin Collection wines; and an eight course Vegetarian Gourmet Menu costs £75, with £50 extra for matched gourmet wines, and £100 for matched Coravin Collection Wines.
The first dish arrived quickly, being a very clever slice of foie gras sandwiched inside a salted caramel macaron (above). This was followed by citrus-cured salmon, and Cornish crab, hummus, pea puree, as well as a colour-matched day lily from the garden in which I had sat on arrival. The two dishes were paired with Hattingley Valley Brut Rosé 2013, from Hampshire in the south of England.
The third course was a wild strawberry and watermelon gazpacho, which was accompanied by a slice of sourdough bread.
This was followed by sashimi of wild sea bass, which was served with Périgord black Truffles, and asparagus, presented on an ice-cold plate, which was paired with Pieropan La Rocca 2014, from Soave in Italy.
A fresh looking dish was chorizo served with quail egg, and vine tomatoes, and was paired with a Hemel-en-Aarde Restless River Chardonnay 2013.
I have learnt to love eating scallops on my trip to New York and London, a delicacy we rarely eat in our local restaurants. An interesting combination dish was diver-caught scallop, black pudding, and foie gras, and was paired with the Australian Barossa Valley Peter Lehmann Riesling 2008.
The next dish was grilled day boat Turbot fish, served with mushrooms, as well as a mushroom broth. It was paired with a wine from Burgundy, the Lignier-Michelot Morey Saint Denis Vielles Vignes 2011.
One of the most attractive dishes was the Welsh lamb fillet, served with an unusual mint cous cous rice paper spring roll, smoked tomato, carrot purée, hummus, orachy leaf, pennywort leaf, and mint from the restaurant garden. This Chef Roger had paired with our local Haskell Vineyards Haskell IV 2010 from Stellenbosch.
A selection of Welsh cheeses arrived next, and I declined the plateful of local cheeses, but only after Sue talked me through each of them. They were Tor goats cheese, Wigmore sheep cheese, Bath soft cheese, Celtic Gold, Stinking Bishop, Brighton Blue, quince, and seeded crackers.
I remember the signature dish of Boiled Egg and Soldiers from the 96 Winery Road dinner, containing mango and passion fruit, vanilla sauce anglaise, topped with Italian meringue and vanilla salt. It was a great hit for other guests, judging by the reaction I heard from those sitting close to me.
Last but not least was a Berry Soufflé with strawberries, a vanilla panna cotta, crumbs, strawberry sorbet, and a tuile, which was paired with Castealnau de Suduiraut 2008 from Sauternes in France.
The Wine List
Chef Roger told me that he is hosting a South African wine tasting in September, with twenty of our country’s winemakers coming over. Three weeks ago Graham Beck winemaker Pieter Ferreira visited The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, and then went to visit British wine estates, visits which had been set up by Chef Roger.
The 73-page winelist claims to be the most comprehensive collection of South African wines outside of our country. White wines listed from our country are Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc Reserve, AA Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc, DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin, Ken Forrester FMC, Botanica Collection Chenin Blanc, Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc, Fraternity Chenin Blanc, Hogan Chenin Blanc, Gabriëlskloof Sauvignon Blanc, Cape Point Vineyards Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, Newton Johnson Resonance, Lismore Sauvignon Blanc, Chamonix Reserve Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Savage Blanc Sauvignon/Semillon, Paul Cluver Chardonnay, Dombeya Chardonnay, Jordan Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, Warwick Estate Chardonnay, Waterford Chardonnay, Meerlust Chardonnay, Lismore Chardonnay, Hartenberg Chardonnay, Thorne & Daughters Zoetrope Chardonnay, Jordan 9 Yards Chardonnay, Mathew van Heerden Signature Chardonnay, Hamilton Russell Chardonnay, Newton Johnson Family Chardonnay, Hartenberg The Eleanor Chardonnay, Crystallum The Agnes Chardonnay, Anvil Chardonnay, Ataraxia Chardonnay, Restless River Chardonnay, Crystallum Clay Shales Chardonnay, Paul Cluver Gewürztraminer, DeMorgenzon Maestro, Fijndraai, Hartenberg Occasional Riesling, The Foundry Viognier, Sijnn Malgas White, Eagles Nest Viognier, Lismore Viognier, Thorne & Daughters Rocking Horse, AA Badenhorst Family White Blend, Jackal Bird Fable Mountain, Cartology Cape White Blend, Keermont Terrace White, Hamilton Russell Ashbourne Sandstone, Mullineux White, and Eben Sadie Palladius.
Red wines from South Africa are Southern Right Pinotage, DeMorgenzon Syrah, Ken Forrester The Gypsy, DeMorgenzon Reserve Syrah, Newton Johnson Family Granum, The Foundry Syrah, Acon Syrah, Lismore Syrah, Savage The Tree, Eagle’s Nest Shiraz, Fable Mountain Syrah, Pillars Syrah, Hartenberg The Stork Shiraz, Meerlust Pinot Noir, Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir, Newton Johnson Family Pinot Noir, Crystallum Pinot Noir Peter Max, Crystallum Pinot Noir Cuvee Cinema, Crystallum Pinot Noir Mabelel, Crystallum Pinot Noir Bona Fide, AA Badenhorst Family Red Blend, Eagles Nest Merlot, Ataraxia Serenity, Haskell IV, Crystallum Paradisum, Meerlust Rubicon, Restless River Cabernet Sauvignon, Eben Sadie Columella, Vilafonte Series M, and Savage Red Blend.
As if Chef Roger did not have enough to do in the kitchen, he planned the train trip for me from nearby Bedwyn to Bournemouth with a changeover stop at Reading. He also kindly drove me to the Bedwyn station.
I felt much better after the spoiling lunch, and for the good care which Sue and her staff had taken of me, checking on me regularly. I was surprised when one of the waitresses came back to tell me that there was no bill, when I asked her for it, a very generous gesture.
Exchange rate: £1 = R18,63
The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, Little Bedwyn, Wales. Tel +44 1672 870871 www.theharrowatlittlebedwyn.com Twitter: @LittleBedwyn
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein