Review: Langford Fivehead
- Credit: Archant
A 15th century house in the Somerset countryside offers timeless relaxation and sensational food, discovers Catherine Courtenay
Chef Olly Jackson has been using produce from just outside the back door for years.
He's worked at Trelowarren Estate in Cornwall, where ingredients came from either the estate's own gardens or within a few miles. Prior to that, when cheffing in Suffolk, Olly was applying the same plot to plate standards.
His path has led him, along with his wife Rebecca, to The Langford Fivehead near Langport and since arriving in 2013 they've expanded the kitchen garden that wraps around this beautiful historic home. Raised beds, fruit cages, polytunnels and orchards and a hard working garden team, produce a supply of veg and fruit for the kitchen - an incredible 90% of what it uses between May and September.
Arriving at Langford Fivehead is a delight. The driveway leads past paddocks with sheep and horses, taking you under a majestic weeping willow along to the front of the house, a gorgeous stone building complete with heavy oak door, mullioned windows and ancient walls covered in wisteria.
It dates back to the 15th century, and inside the sense of history continues, but with contemporary touches in the artwork and light fittings.
It is so peaceful and calm, whether you take your pre-dinner drink and snacks while sitting in the lounge with its fireplace and sofas, or outside on the terrace, the house and its surrounding gardens envelop you in their timeless and assured simplicity.
By contrast, Olly's food awakens and excites. Bursting with colour, each dish is a joy to behold. He prefers a classic French style of cooking, so expect highly skilled techniques, but he also brings liveliness to the dishes. An asparagus starter comes with slow cooked egg perfection, pools of lemon sauce and then a sprinkling of granola and tiny, zingy capers. A main of local lamb, cooked three ways, is accompanied by carrot purée and a wild garlic pesto - what a picture, let alone the taste! As for dessert, a set lemon curd is wildly flavoursome but you can still savour the early summer delicacy of the accompanying strawberries. And a panna cotta with poached rhubarb is presented patisserie-style, layered in delicate pastry with a luscious ruby-pink scoop of rhubarb sorbet on the side.
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Clearly relishing the use of such fresh produce, Olly ensures that every ingredient is given due respect and his love of produce and place genuinely comes across in every dish. With a wine list offering a large number of wines by the glass, and Rebecca's excellent recommendations on hand, it's a good idea to make the most of a visit and book one of the six individual bedrooms. And with room rates starting from £200 for dinner, bed and breakfast - what are you waiting for?