If you have not yet made plans for the UK’s next bank holiday, you might well be tempted by the thought of the lush, flower-filled meadows, hedgerows laced with blossom and the mellow and honey-coloured stone of the Cotswolds. Add to that bucolic image a dinner and stay in the postcard-perfect village of Southrop, at boutique hotel Thyme, where a special one-off dinner is being held on May 28.
Entitled A Tale of Two Farms, this is a collaboration between two young men, Charlie Hibbert and James Chase, who both grew up in the countryside with a love of the land. Hibbert has recently joined the kitchens of Thyme’s fast-developing 150-acre estate, having learnt his craft in London. The engine room at Thyme is Hibbert’s mother, who as well as having opened the village pub, the acclaimed The Swan at Southrop, first introduced a cookery school at Thyme, and then created cottages and rooms for guests around a welcoming bar. James Chase, meanwhile, has long been inspired by the botanicals and ingredients on his own family’s potato farm in Herefordshire, which find their way into the gin and vodka made at Chase distillery.
Chase will create a bespoke menu of cocktails (£50 for a flight) and spirits to compliment Hibbert’s menu (£75 for three courses), which draws on the jewels of Thyme’s impressive kitchen gardens, fields and hedgerows – surrounding the huge barn dining space (first and second pictures). The meal itself begins with a spirited twist: vodka-cured salmon, pickled cucumber and horseradish cream matched with a smoked vodka martini, before continuing with Southrop Manor pork belly, asparagus, almonds and Pink Fir apples accompanied by William’s Elegant gin fizz. The pudding is pine nut meringue, elderflower cream and rhubarb accompanied by a refreshing Great Chase – Chase vodka, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice and soda water. A Cotswold cheese board with homemade crackers finishes the feast, with shots of sloe gin or marmalade vodka, served neat and chilled – much like the guests will be at that point.