Fine Dining in the heart of Buckinghamshire: Allium at Manor FarmPosted 26th September 2023
Last month, I had the pleasure of an invitation to a dining experience that has long been on my bucket list: Allium Dining. Allium at Manor Farm in Bourton is a celebration of all things local and delicious – two aspects that are of great importance to me as an avid consumer of all things edible. Situated in the heart of the Buckinghamshire countryside, Manor Farm in Bourton is home to this gastronomic event lead by the culinary wizard that is Andy Tomlinson. As a huge fan of their daytime offering, The Larder Café, I knew that this was going to be a special evening.
A little about Manor Farm…
The Verey family have been farming at Manor Farm in Bourton for four generations and have been building a business that has the environment and local community at its heart. Having celebrated their centenary in October 2018, the farm has long been a Buckinghamshire institution and is home to many projects – both edible (such as the Cheese Room and The Butchery) and otherwise.
‘With challenges of the environment, public perception, and food production within the global market, there are many hurdles along the way, but with the possibility of finding the right market for what we produce and showing the public our commitment to making a better local environment for nature and people there is a strong chance of still being a farm here for the next 100 years!’
Allium is born…
‘Allium Dining’ also began in 2018 – originally held as one-off taster evenings, these grew in popularity and thankfully (after hanging on throughout the tumultuous time that was Covid) the reputation of these evenings prevailed and they became a regular, bi-monthly fixture. Described as a place ‘where culinary artistry meets the serene landscapes [of] Buckinghamshire’s countryside,’ Allium’s menus change seasonally and reflect the team’s commitment to sustainability and authenticity. Each and every plate that is designed is guided by locally-grown and foraged produce, which takes the consumer on a journey of flavours.
Andy Tomlinson, the head chef and founder of Allium Dining, has over 20 years of experience working in Michelin-starred kitchens alongside some of the world’s best chefs, such as Simon Rogan of ‘L’Enclume,’ Mark Birchall of ‘Moor Hall’ and Andrew Fairlie of ‘Gleneagles,’ to name just a few. Tomlinson utilises every part of each product with minimal wastage and curates unique dining experiences that celebrate the generosity of nature. After having taste-tested the delights at this recent event, it is so evident that each plate tells a story of the land it hails from.
Spiced Plum Cocktail
Carrot – Nasturtium – Smoked Pork
Mushroom – Thyme – Truffle – Buckwheat
Crab – Cucumber – Fennel – Rhubarb
Cheese – Onion – Chive – Sour Cream
Tomato – Apple Marigold – Bone Marrow – Rosehip
Chicken – Sweetcorn – Chard – Runner Beans
Greengage – Honey – Yoghurt – Cobnuts (with a nut-free version for me)
Pineapple Weed – Gingerbread
It was a wonderfully sunny evening when my partner and I pulled up to Manor Farm Bourton – it was the first time I had visited away from daytime, but the rustic café-build still had the same familial and friendly appeal. Kicking things off with a sumptuously sweet and sour Spiced Plum Cocktail on arrival meant that, from the get-go, I knew we would be in for a real treat.
First up was the ‘Carrot – Nasturtium – Smoked Pork’ dish – I feel like I would be doing this mouthful a disservice to simply call it a glorified pork crackling crisp, but in simple terms it really was just that – a crunchy, salty and rich bite that was devoured in seconds but remembered long after. This was followed by what I think had to be my favourite course: the ‘Mushroom – Thyme – Truffle – Buckwheat.’ Eating with my eyes first already had my mouth watering – the visual appeal of this little pastry, with perfectly proportioned mushrooms and specks of green thyme leaves harmonised with the oaky, earthy and sweet scent of savoury truffle as it was placed on our table. The taste absolutely matched the joy felt by my other senses; it was a culinary triumph. Next was the dish that appealed the most to me on paper – ‘Crab – Cucumber – Fennel – Rhubarb.’ Described by Tomlinson as his take on a ‘sandwich,’ the slight anise flavour combined with the sweet and mild taste of the ocean and was, once again, a true delight for my palate.
The bread course followed: the soft, pillowy cheese roll paired beautifully with the pungent chive oil and mellow sour cream before we tucked into the Farm’s fresh take on a salad. The ‘Tomato – Apple Marigold – Bone Marrow – Rosehip’ was – yet again – another front runner; the tomatoes were a world away from the bland supermarket variety – these were super sweet and not-at-all overpowered by the rich and salty bone marrow crumb on top. The ‘main course’ as such followed – ‘Chicken – Sweetcorn – Chard – Runner Beans’ was a bright and vibrant dish – considering I always think of chicken as being the blandest meat, and one I would never tend to order out, this was frankly untrue for Andy’s version – this dish was an absolute celebration of all things Summer.
The dessert course and petit fours followed: fresh greengages with sweet honey and mild yoghurt were topped with Cobnuts for others, with a nut-free version for me which appeared visually identical – something I always value as an allergy sufferer. We rounded the whole meal off with the incredibly curious flavour of a pineapple weed milkshake (served in a shot glass) and mini spiced gingerbread doughnut. We polished off the lot and revelled in the thought that this was, truly, one of our favourite dates – to date!
Fancy trying Allium for yourself?
All Allium events are priced at £89, including the entirety of the tasting menu and a welcome drink. Find out more here: https://www.allium-dining.com/
- Saturday 14th October
- Sunday 15th October
- Saturday 28th October
- Sunday 29th October
- Saturday 11th November
- Sunday 12th November
- Saturday 18th November
- Sunday 19th November
- Saturday 9th December
- Sunday 10th December