WORDS: KIT HEATHCOCK IMAGES: PATRICK HEATHCOCK
After 19 years at Bread and Wine building a solid reputation for charcuterie, breads and the kind of honest food that chefs like to eat on their day off, Neil and Tina Jewell have started a new adventure. Jewell’s at the Spice Route is a collaboration with Liam Tomlin of Chef’s Warehouse, but the kitchen is all Neil’s, with a short à la carte menu that changes often. “The whole concept is to use as much produce from the estate as possible. To celebrate what the farm can give to us and what we can put on the plate, without being pompous about it,” says Neil.
The estate, which includes Fairview, provides free-range Angus beef, lamb, pork and dairy produce, and vegetable garden is in the works below the restaurant. For his prized charcuterie, Neil continues to use pasture-reared pigs from Glen Oakes.
Building up a charcuterie selection takes time – his prosciutto ages for seven years – and Neil had only had seven weeks when we visited, but our charcuterie platter was already laden – gorgeous herby ham, saucisson sec, salami sticks, spreadable salami, luscious pork rillettes, peppered beef salami, and an amazingly subtle and delicious mortadella.
“The food should do the talking – it’s the star of the show,” Neil says and, as we work through the menu, it does. Wild mushrooms, lightly pickled, on tagliatelle with a pea purée, winter meets spring. An intense carrot terrine, simple and pretty with labneh, sumac and baba ganoush, elevates the humble vegetable to a welld-eserved spotlight. A surprisingly refreshing lamb jelly and tartare have whispers of mint and vinegar, crunchy sprouted mustard and capers.
Our mains are earthy, straightforward celebrations of the meat and generous portions: stunning dry-aged Angus beef served with Fairview St Louis cheese polenta, mushrooms and roasted Jerusalem artichoke, a symphony of winter richness; CBC pale ale bacon belly chop, crispy crackling, melting fat and full smoky depth, with sweetbreads, pommes purée and crispy kale.
Desserts continue the high note. I loved the macadamia panna cotta with grilled guava and nut streusel, a green sauce of kiwi and cucumber bringing a hint of summer Pimms to the depths of winter. It’s relaxed enough to bring the family, there’s a real-food kids’ menu and plenty of outdoor seating next to the wide lawn and old oak trees, with serene views over the valley.
Jewell’s at the Spice Route
021 204 4875