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NEW REVIEW: Worton Kitchen Garden

Updated: Apr 3

Is this Oxfordshire's best-kept foodie secret? Nestled away at the bottom of a dirt track between Yarnton and Cassington is Worton Rectory Farm, home to the Worton Kitchen Garden, a seven-acre market garden providing a variety of seasonal fresh vegetables, herbs, fruit, eggs and flowers.


Amongst the tractors and hay barns, the owner curates the menu and cooks the food himself, including the wood-fired fresh bread, cakes, pastries and croissants, and much of the food is grown on the farm, including pork, duck and chicken, most of which is also available to purchase from the on-site farm shop.



It has been over three years since I last visited Worton for lunch, but little has changed since then. Worton still provides an intimate, personal and relaxing refectory-style setting. The menu has changed very slightly due to its seasonal and hyper-local nature and I'm sure some tinkering by the chef Simon who, on our arrival at the wrong door, greeted us like a cheerful Easter bunny, confirmed our reservation and directed us to "The Glasshouse", a glowing greenhouse at the back of the kitchen, for seating.



I had packed both a jacket and a coat for the evening as it had been a chilly end to March, but I was pleasantly surprised that I had to remove both due to the wood stove pumping out a lovely heat. Thankfully there was a cosy table for two available right next to the stove so we chose our seats and were then quickly directed to the blackboard at the back of the quirky room to peruse the menu...



For starter, I decided to be adventurous and try the calcots - the smoky charred onions combined perfectly with the thick, unctuous romesco sauce, although the calcots were slightly more chargrilled than my preference. Sweet and delicate, they are traditionally eaten at calçotadas, a Catalan winter barbecue where they are packed onto grills and eaten with bowls of romesco, made from almonds, piquillo peppers and fresh breadcrumbs.



My other half chose the pear salad and gave me huge food envy. Fortunately, diplomatic relations were established and a food trade was agreed. The Stichelton is an English blue cheese, similar to stilton - I learned later that the name comes from a form of the name of Stilton village in the 1086 Domesday Book (Stichiltone/Sticiltone), as the name Stilton cannot legally be used for the cheese. It went exquisitely with the endive and pear, and paired beautifully with the Malbec which had now arrived - from slightly further afield, an organic vineyard in Mendoza.



For mains, I couldn't resist the Spicy Tuscan Fennel Sausages with Borlotti Beans, made with Middlewhite Pork from the Worton farm, reared literally in the building next door. Absolutely delicious and relatively mild on the spice spectrum, the sourdough bread was perfect for mopping up every last bit of sauce. Across the table from me was the Roast Cod, beluga lentils with wild garlic. Suffice to say there was nothing left on either plate.


Service was swift, but as the wine and food flowed we did not feel hurried. We could have stayed here all night, although the stove was now down to its last and the night was closing in. Dessert next and we shared the rhubarb pavlova between us, the large portion size was ample for two. The pavlova had a hard, crunchy meringue outside, marshmallowy inside, piles of softly whipped cream merged with a rhubarb compote. This was just as good as the summer variation with berries I enjoyed in 2020, one to try again in British Summer Time.



After a very satisfying dinner, I am pleased to say I hope to be back at Worton very soon. This is a unique, independent restaurant where heart and soul is put into the food within a wonderful, tranquil setting. You can tell that it was all done with love and amazing attention to detail. It is not surprising that WKG is booked up months in advance. Be sure to book early to avoid disappointment.


With Love & Food,

The Oxfordshire Foodie



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