A Taste of the Sussex Countryside – Nutbourne:
I first came across the Gladwin brothers when The Shed opened in Notting Hill. It was a breath of fresh air; excellent unpretentious food largely sourced from the family farm and vineyard and from local Sussex suppliers and with one Gladwin brother in the kitchen, the other front of house.
Now they own and run three restaurants in London – The Shed is still going strong and there’s an outpost in Chelsea, Rabbit, on the Kings Road which opened in September 2014, and is a true celebration of British ‘wild food’. Nutbourne, the third and most recent restaurant opened in Autumn 2016 and has the most structured menu, with Snacks, Starters, Main Courses and Desserts replacing the sharing and small plates of The Shed and Rabbit.
It’s just a little tricky to reach, unless you happen to live in Battersea, in which case, for now, you are very fortunate. Once the Northern Line extension opens we’ll all be able to get there in minutes! It’s rather pleasantly sited, just a few minutes from Battersea Park and almost on the River, so that in the Summer I suspect the al-fresco deck looking out over Ransome’s Dock will become very popular.
We started, as I would recommend everyone should do, with a glass of Nutbourne Fizz. The restaurant has a good wine list, featuring a full range of Nutbourne wines. There’s also a creative cocktail menu including an alcohol-free Seedlip option. And a range of spirits and juices.
Home made bread came with three butters – my favourite was the wild garlic which is apparently foraged from Battersea Park! And a couple of amuse bouche made for a great start to the meal. I was dining with the pescatarian Hedonist, so got two pieces of the delicious crispy chicken skin with saffron aioli though he kept stealing the saffron aioli. It was, in my view, the better of the two options, though the nutty mushroom choux was lovely enough.
I ordered the grilled langoustine with lardo, lemon thyme, garlic and chilli, a lovely light yet well-flavoured plateful. So delicious you couldn’t help but pick the langoustine shells up and suck out every bit of the soft, melting shellfish.
The Hedonist’s cured chalk stream trout with garden peas cow’s curd, smoked rapeseed oil and peashoots was poetry on a plate. I loved the contrast between the curd and the cured trout.
My main course of spatchcock baby chicken with grilled spring onions, cherry tomatoes and cucumber yoghurt was that sort of plateful of ‘dirty food’ you just want to dive into. Messy, delicious and so full of taste you couldn’t leave anything. I loved the addition of grilled spring onions, a little like mini calcots.
Nutbourne produce excellent tomatoes – I was surprised to see them for sale at Cowdray and even more surprised at the depth of flavour in those on my plate here. Explosive mouthfuls of flavour – they tasted as if they’d been picked on a warm summer’s afternoon and cooked just a few hours later.
My companion ordered the roasted cod with salsify, sea herbs, clams, lemon vinaigrette and nasturtium. It had such a deep char on the skin we thought at first glance that it might be overcooked, but from the contented noises coming from across the table I knew very quickly that wasn’t the case.
Dessert wasn’t at all necessary but, all in the interest of research we decided to try the salted caramel tart with brown bread ice-cream and the hot chocolate fondant with peanut butter ice-cream and candied bacon.
The tart was beautifully presented and the soft brown bread ice-cream made an excellent contrast in flavour and texture.
My hot chocolate fondant was, perhaps, just a little lacking in ooze. But, I was surprised at how much I liked the peanut butter ice-cream and candied bacon. In fact, next time I might just have a plateful of ice-cream with candied bacon wafers…
Oh and all the desserts come with paired digestifs; it would have been rude not to enjoy the treacly Pedro Ximenez Emilio Lustau, San Emilio NV that was paired with my fondant.
We both loved Nutbourne. I’d definitely be visiting more regularly if it was a little easier for me to get there and in fact, from my old base in West Brompton it’s really quite simple. As it is, I just need to find an excuse, like a visit to Battersea Park, and I’ll be there.
29 Ransomes Dock
35-37 Parkgate Road,
Battersea, London, SW11 4NP