'One of the best lunches I have ever eaten locally!'
PUBLISHED: 13:43 30 April 2018 | UPDATED: 13:43 30 April 2018
For such a small village, Sandridge does very well for places to buy good food, with proper pubs, butcher's shop, Heartwood Tearoom and farm shops. Carpenters has long had a great reputation for their own-grown vegetables and plants, and the farm shop has transformed in the last two years. The latest development is the opening of The Potting Shed over the Easter weekend.
A regular customer at the farm shop, I knew work on the café had been going on so I popped in just before Easter for lunch for a sneak preview. I don’t want to give too much away as I want you to enjoy the surprise, but when we walked in we were amazed at what James and the team have achieved. It is the most stunning building with vaulted ceiling and light pouring in from the huge doors looking out to the fields beyond.
I was expecting The Potting Shed to be a good garden centre café, somewhere to get a cup of tea and cake after shopping, but this a huge step up from neighbouring garden centres (as lovely as some of them are). Head chef Scott Whitehead has devised a very good menu, with breakfasts, lunches and teas, using produce from the farm when he can. The farm shop already sells many of our best local products and I am delighted that the café continues this. Bacon and sausages are from Priors Hall, Stickleback supply the fish, goats cheese is from Wobbly Bottom, and Farr Brewery supply the beer for the beer-battered plaice.
It’s a great place for breakfast and brunch with a menu to rival the best in the city centre: Dizzy Bee granola, juices and smoothies, pancakes, eggs, smashed avo with chilli and mint salsa, toast and home-baked muffins and full veggie or meaty English cooked breakfasts too.
I had one of the best lunches I have ever eaten locally – I know, it surprised me too! We chose from a specials menu and I had celeriac and spelt risotto with hazelnuts and goats cheese for a first course and sole fillets with carrot and barley broth for a main course. The celeriac and carrots, among other ingredients, were from the fields just beyond the restaurant – a record for food miles locally surely?
If you want just a sandwich, don’t worry, they are available too, with smoked salmon, honey roast ham and egg mayonnaise made with Clover Farm eggs that they also sell in the shop. You can choose small and large plates for lunch which include home-made pie and quiche, a Potting Shed burger and delicious vegan/veggie options such as pearl barley risotto with leeks and charred spring onions.
Puds and cakes are interesting too, with many baked onsite; my spiced carrot and orange cake was excellent. Afternoon tea is available at £14.95 for tea, finger sandwiches, two scones and cake – add a glass of fizz for £3.95. Yes, there is a bar too, with a local beers and wine (some supplied by Flagship Wines). You can just pop in for a coffee, which is supplied by Borough Market company The Gentlemen Barista’s Union, although it is busy so book for weekend brunch and breakfast. Prices are reasonable – most main courses, for example, are under £10.
The Potting Shed is already busy, and rightly so, so if you want to book call on 01727 856995 or book online. They will try to keep some walk-in tables, and as the weather lifts, there will be table space outside too. It will be open every day 9.30am until 5pm except on Sundays when they close at 4.30pm (order half an hour before closing). You go through the farm shop to find the café; remember to leave time to stock up on super-fresh veggies to take home.
I love The Potting Shed, and am so pleased the Carpenter family have created something really special here that goes beyond expectations. It would be a lovely place to go on a summer evening too, so let’s watch this space – they are probably busy enough at the moment!