The Forest of Dean hasn’t ever featured on my foodie list before, but when Tudor Farmhouse started cropping up on my Twitter feed, I just knew they were something special. When they invited us for dinner one (very sunny) evening, I knew it was going to be fantastic, what I didn’t expect, was that I would fall in love with the place!
Tudor Farmhouse is a restaurant and hotel in Clearwell, a tiny little village just outside of Coleford. We pulled in and parked up the car alongside their orchard of apples, pears, damsons, plums and quince and walked into the most beautiful courtyard garden - ever.
As soon as a pre-dinner drink in the garden was mentioned, we bit their hand off and obliged by ordering a couple of cocktails – a virgin mojito for me and a Picante de la Casa for Kingsley. We had olives and almonds to nibble on whilst we supped our drinks and perused the menu. Kingsley’s cocktail was sublime: Tequila, agave, lime, chilli and coriander all served over ice. And yes, I did have a sneaky sip or two. We recently went on a cocktail masterclass at Old Stocks Inn, so we hopefully learnt enough to try and re-create this at home.
The courtyard was so beautiful I was tempted to ask if we could eat outside, but I thought I’d better behave, so we were showed into the farmhouse itself and seated at a gorgeous table in the window. This place is rather popular, the restaurant being fully booked and the hotel only having a couple of rooms left on a Thursday evening, just goes to show how good it is, really.
A loaf-tin of rustic white and granary stout bread was brought to the table with a pot of Netherend Farm butter. The faint bitterness of the stout won us both over and we could tell just by the bread, that we were in for a very good meal. We had a tomato, red pepper and goat’s cheese soup as a treat from the kitchen and the bread was polished off by dipping it in!
It’s worth mentioning that the head chef, Rob Cox, is passionate about sourcing locally (within 20 miles) - some of it extremely local from their very own orchard and kitchen garden. So by eating and drinking here, you can be sure of filling your tummy with the very best supplies from local producers and it’s guaranteed to be a seasonal feast too.
To start, I had the honey and lavender glazed duck breast served with rhubarb (two-ways), Chinese 5 spice and spring onion. The duck breast was cooked medium but with the most perfectly crisp skin topped with lavender, honey, cumin and coriander seeds which added a burst of flavour with every bite. Kingsley got his fish fix with the butter poached sea trout served with lemon and capers and topped with hazelnuts providing that great crunchy texture. Both starters were £9.
For the main event, and my favourite course of the evening, I had roasted guinea fowl (both breast and leg) which I’d never had before. Its taste sits right between chicken and pheasant and at Tudor Farmhouse, was served with Wye Valley asparagus, buttery spring greens, a mushroom duxelle and hazelnuts (£23). The mushroom duxelle (which for those not in the know, like me, is basically a fine paste made from sautéed mushrooms, onions and herbs) was a welcome accompaniment to the guinea fowl with a strong earthy taste.
Kingsley chose the special of Longhorn beef sirloin. Neither of us would ever usually choose steak when we go out for a meal, but this one, served with Wye Valley asparagus, morel mushrooms, shallot & horseradish confit and brown butter hollandaise, just took Kingsley’s fancy. The outstanding tender beef with the morel mushrooms and brown butter hollandaise was a match made in heaven. We would suggest ordering some hand-cut chips on the side, otherwise you might go home feeling a little hungry (which would be sacrilege after such a beautiful meal), plus, steak and chips is one of those pairings that should just be a given, right? You’ll thank us, the chips are blimmin’ lovely.
I always like to finish on something sweet, but Kingsley can usually take or leave dessert, however, on this occasion, there were so many he liked the sound of, he struggled to choose just one! The solution? He chose one and a half by ordering the baked cheesecake with passion fruit and lime (£8), and also a coffee with petit-fours of tonka bean fudge and raspberry and black pepper encased in a beautiful white chocolate. I helped him out with these of course – wifely duties and all that!
I had the milk chocolate and hazelnut cremeux, coffee ice cream, goat milk puree and chocolate rocks (£8) and despite it being flippin’ hot outside, I ordered a pot of vanilla black tea to go with. The cremeux was a creamy, chocolatey and ever so soft pudding, which melts practically to the touch – utterly gorgeous. I do love a good coffee ice cream and so my dessert plate was practically licked clean.
I would say, this is fine dining, so be prepared to work your way through all three courses. You want to experience the whole menu and the portion sizes are designed with this in mind.
As we were leaving, we decided to take a seat in the garden for a few moments before heading home. I must admit, I was so tempted to order a cheese board, not out of hunger or greed, but just because it would have been the perfect excuse to stay for another hour or so in the last of the sunshine.
It’s no secret we love a place called The Pig Hotel, and we both felt that Tudor Farmhouse delivered everything we usually get from our breaks at The Pig and we don’t even need to travel as far! On the plus side though, it’s just far enough away from home, that we could justify booking a room for the night!
Are there any other places in the Forest of Dean that should be on my food hit-list?