Crumbs visits: The Methuen Arms
by Dan Izzard
25 October 2018
The concept ‘from field to fork’ is easy enough to get your head around. But how many times have you seen a chef down tools and pop out back to dig up some leeks? Well, at the Methuen Arms in Corsham that’s a routine occurrence.
When we went to visit, we found head chef Leigh Evans roaming the garden and veg patch, now an integral part of how the team here create the menu.
“The garden creates a bit of a food story for our guests,” says Leigh. “It's nice for them to actually see where the food is coming from and shows the real effort that we as a team put into making our food the best it can be.”
Walking around the patch (previously an unused area of the pub garden), there were signs that winter was setting in with several patches empty, but the team are already planning for the seasons ahead.
“We now write our menus around the garden,” Lee explains, almost surprising himself with how integral the garden has now become. “Next year is already planned with what produce will come through, and what we can do with it.”
With produce not being delivered in a nice refrigerated van on a set timescale, the team have had to let nature take its course, but that’s not without its benefits as Leigh explains.
“A few things surprised us this year, the yield of some of the veg such as our courgette flowers was incredible. You could pick them in the morning, and they would spring back up the next day. They can be really expensive to buy, so we were really lucky to be able to grow them.”
A project like this is not about creating a self-sufficient kitchen, but about complementing locally bought produce to enhance the offering of the pub and creating something that Leigh hopes will be as good as any restaurant or hotel restaurant.
“Sometimes people don't expect pub food to be as good as it can be, and that in itself can leave people being pleasantly surprised in the meal that they have. A great example is Rob Allcock’s food at The Longs Arms (Bradford-on-Avon). Its where I go to eat, as I know I am going to enjoy the atmosphere, service and I know the food is always going to be spot on. When you find a pub like that, it becomes your regular go to rather than an occasion, and that what's so good about a pub, its accessible enough to go regularly.”