If you love food (and we mean LOVE it), you're people after our own heart... and you might want to check out what the Exmoor Food Festival has to offer this year. It started on January 26th with a VIP launch event and it runs throughout February, bringing together some awesome local restaurants offering stunning food at affordable prices. We're all for that, as well as for the two-day event in Dunster on the weekend of February 25th, to round off the celebrations in style.
Super Chef Andrew Dixon of the Cafe at Porlock Weir came up with the idea originally, so we thought who better to speak to to mark the festival? Here we chat about Andrew's restaurant, what he'll be doing to celebrate the Food Fest and a few other unexpected tales too!
1. Can you share with us how the Café at Porlock Weir came about & what visitors can expect?
Myself and my wife Sarah have been here at Porlock Weir for 16 years. For the first 11 years we were in our former guise as 'Andrew's on the Weir' - a restaurant with rooms. We had 3 AA rosettes for food, which we were awarded within our first year of owning our own restaurant. Our rooms were also awarded 4 stars. Then in 2011, we decided to rebrand the restaurant to a more informal style, keeping standards as high as they'd always been and sticking to our ethos of sourcing the best local or English produce available. We were awarded Best Restaurant in the Somerset Life awards in 2015 and we haven't looked back!
2. How will you be celebrating the Exmoor Food Festival this year?
We're offering a menu serving predominantly Exmoor and West Country produce - 2 courses for £10 and 3 courses for £15, served on Friday and Saturday lunchtimes and for Friday, Saturday and Sunday Dinner during February. Come and try it out :)
3. What's your favourite dish to cook & if you could choose anyone else to cook for you, who would it be and why?
My favourite dish at the moment is anything using Exmoor lamb from West Somerset college farm. It's hand reared by the students and is truly amazing - the best I've ever used and tasted in 20 years living and working on Exmoor. The west country oysters we serve are phenomenal too.
The person I'd like to cook for me would have to be my mother. She passed away over ten years ago and I'd love to have one final meal with her, reliving my childhood memories of mince and dumplings, yellow smoked fish with boiled potatoes and white sauce, lamb hot pot and the obligatory Sunday evening buffet watching the Tales of the Unexpected on TV... a real Geordie feast!
4. Tell us a secret about you or the Café at Porlock Weir that no-one else knows.
When we rebranded the café in 2011, we handed back our rosettes to the AA and we wrote to all the major guides asking them not to consider us for any future awards or inclusions. That might sound surprising, but we did it because our attitude and business ethos meant we didn't want to be chasing guide book entries. We simply wanted to focus on what our guests and our customers truly wanted. Our attitude to guides ultimately won't change, but after listening to our customers recent views - and advice from our friends in the hospitality industry, you might just see the Café included in some select guides in 2017 - to help celebrate what we do here at Porlock Weir.
Well, the Café at Porlock Weir will definitely be celebrated as a cool place to eat in our blog in the future and from our chat with Andrew, we already know that he's very Somerset cool! :)
If you fancy getting involved in the Exmoor Food Festival and trying out Andrew's awesome food, get yourself down to the Café at Porlock Weir for some of this fantastic stuff on the menu! Roasted gurnard, braised fennel, charred courgette and bouillabaisie juices ... yes please! :)