January 29th, 2009


Hilltop Farm Shop and Café

Location: Here. Near Lemington Spa.

Clear blue skies, a cold breezy winter day: and we were inside in the comfortable warmth of an airy café located in the back half of an upscale farm shop in Warwickshire. A. was first introduced to the Hilltop Farm Shop and Café on a day of escape, in need of spiritual refreshment. We - C., A., and makyo - were there for a splendid Sunday roast.

My duck salad appetizer featured slices of smoked duck on a bed of greens, with a nicely-balanced blood orange and blueberry sauce to sweeten and macerate it all. A. and C. had the soup of the day, which was pleasant, but I've already forgotten what it was made from. The locally-reared beef was as good a piece of roast beef as I've ever had, full-flavored and easily-sliced. The Yorkshire pudding was good. The vegetables were superb, a hearty array of choice with carrots, swede mash, roast potatoes, and the best boiled brussel sprouts I've ever had. The sprouts were good enough that all of us liked them. They were really remarkably good sprouts.

Almost sated, we yielded to dessert anyways, the rest of them to a good lemon meringue pie, and I to banana toffee cheesecake, which was filling, but no where near as sweet as it sounds. The toffee was applied with a light hand. It was good, although the lemon meringue was a little better.

We took advantage of the jug of water on the table. Service was friendly and casual. The café was doing reasonable business for mid-January, although we'd made a reservation in advance to be safe. If you go, call to confirm opening times in advance. The website only has the hours for the shop which, impressive as it is, isn't the café. Mostly lunches and cream teas are available, but it serves dinner at least once a month as well.

If you have really, really good ingredients, you have the potential for a great meal if you don't smother or overwork your ingredients. The Hilltop Farm Café does an excellent job of sourcing: it was apparent in nearly every bite.