Lucie Loves... Food // Looking for freshly foraged and fanciful food? Try the ever-changing tasting menu at Restaurant Interlude, Leonardslee Lake & Gardens [press invite - review]
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…” ~ “Rebecca” - Daphne du Maurier
A few months back, I was kindly invited to a press preview of a very special tasting menu experience, created by Chef Jean Delport, at Leonardslee Lake & Gardens’ own Restaurant Interlude, and I swear if Manderley ever existed, it would feel very much like Leonardslee. Experiences like this are one of the main reasons I ever added the ‘food & wine blogger’ string to my bow.
With its historic family heritage, Restaurant Interlude is situated inside the newly renovated Italianate mansion on the 200 acre Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens estate, Sussex. If you’re the kind of person who is looking to taste extraordinary gastronomic delights, without having to venture into the heart of London, then Restaurant Interlude is the foodie destination for you.
Following a unturndownable invitation from their press officer, Patrick, my friend SarahLou and I arrived at the restaurant around lunchtime, where we were greeted with a refreshingly crisp glass of the family’s own Benguela Collection sparkling wine in the grand hallway. FYI, Leonardslee House, complete with its soaring ceilings and grand piano is a great wedding venue option too, for anyone looking to get married in Sussex!
After a short while, once all guests had arrived, we were invited to take our seats around the ten tables (36 covers) in the grand dining room, with its spectacular views across the verdant gardens.The restaurant offers highly original and creative tasting menus, which include foraged, cultivated and raised produce from the estate - all lovingly prepared by South African Executive Chef Jean Delport. Every dish tells the story of how the Leonardslee Gardens change from season to season.
The food was simply exquisite! Definitely Michelin-star worthy! I'm really excited to share the photos of the dishes that appeared before us – I wish you could taste them all too! Such thought and craftsmanship in each combination of flavours, textures and presentation-style. Here’s the menu that we had the chance to try. It’s worth mentioning that Restaurant Interlude’s tasting menus are either 14 or 19 courses, with ingredients that are seasonal and subject to change, but that will most definitely give your tastebuds a journey around the gardens.
Restaurant Interlude Tasting Menu*
Untraditional crackers. seeds. stones
Rabbit eats carrot
foraged oyster. oca
bread. local butter
scallop. birch. Jerusalem artichoke
mushroom. biltong. tasty paste
potato. egg estate. exmoor caviar
shot pigeon. bbq. crushed blackberry
trenchmore wagyu. bone marrow. cod roe
winslade soft. spruce bark. crab apple (optional)
sloe berry ice. nasturtium
sheeps milk. bullrush. quince
estate acorn. 70% guanaja. brandy. coffee
dogwood glacé. malt. nibs
lavender. honey (they gave us a little bottle of this and some balsamic to take away - it was absolutely delicious!
We were short on time, and so only had around 12 courses… only, she says! Tut! - but this was more than enough to make me want to holler about this restaurant experience from its Italianate rooftop! Prices are around £90 per person for the 14 course menu option and £120 per person for the 19 course menu option. They aim to seat everyone at approximately 7pm, to allow the time for the full experience (and recommend allowing 3-4 hours for this). But drinks are available in the bar from 6pm.
It’s also well worth mentioning that the wine pairing we had with each course was from the Benguela Cove Estate, and went remarkably well with the food. We were sat on the same table as Adam Streeter, sony of Penny Streeter OBE, who runs the Estate and lives there with his young family. I did say to Adam that if they ever are looking to send people on a press trip to review the family’s South African vineyards, then I’m your girl! Always happy to do my very best wine blogger impression. They even offer wine safaris In S.A. Sounds amazing!
They also have some great local gins on offer, and so have the potential to do great mixology and cocktail pairings too.
I feel like you can judge a restaurant very well on just how much effort they put into their bread & butter offering. Chef Jean Delport and co created some of the most decadently unusual and moreish buttery delights I’ve ever got my chops on! I mean, even that pretty wooden butter knife is no ordinary butter knife! Every little detail has been thoughtfully considered - from foraged goods to table settings.
For me, one of the beauties of fine-dining is that chefs have a real opportunity to show their artistry, and with that their personality almost always comes through. The playfulness of the Restaurant Interlude tasting menu cannot be ignored either! I mean, that bespoke ceramic egg-shaped bowl had us all chuckling and cooing in equal amounts!
If the proposed planting plans for the next 2-3 years at Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens live up to the quality of the interior renovations and food offering, this place is sure to breathe new life into this estate, and will draw visitors from all over. From date nights, to group tours, corporate hospitality and events with Phil the Wine Ambassador, there’s really so much to be unearthed here.
Looking to read more reviews of Restaurant Interlude? Take a peek at Nick Harman’s thoughts on his blog Foodepedia
About Leonardslee Lake & Gardens
If you’re a fan of a walk around National Trust-esq properties - but require ones that you can take your dog too - and enjoy stunning gardens and surrounds, then Leonardslee House, with its dog-friendly Lake & Gardens, fabulous restaurant and Dolls House Museum near Horsham is a must visit! They even do wine-tastings too, from the family’s vineyard in South Africa. There’s so much to do and see! Check out their What’s on pages for more details of upcoming events.
Restaurant Interlude, Leonardslee Gardens, Brighton Road, Lower Beeding, Horsham RH13 6PP
Dinner | Wednesday - Saturday 18:00 - 21:00
Wednesday - Saturday 09:00 - 18:00
Fancy being a chef?
To enquire about joining the team at Interlude, why not send an email detailing your qualifications and experience, together with your CV?