Food has a way of speaking to the soul, and at Crumplebury, curating exceptional dining experiences has always been at the front and centre of its existence. Starting life as a pop-up as the Green Cow in 2012, today, the establishment is a thriving foodie hub attracting locals and those from afar.
Luxurious Magazine’s Sabi Phagura drove to the organic home farm on the Worcestershire-Herefordshire borders to tuck into some seriously posh nosh.
There’s no doubt that food has been undergoing a cultural renaissance in the last decade. Its production, preparation and consumption have become serious conversation topics gripping the literati and savvy among us.
Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the value of locally sourced and sustainable food—one reason why Crumplebury has flourished, and I was eager to learn more.
Veering off the A44 along a country lane while passing curious cows, sheep and pigs before finally arriving outside a collection of farm buildings wasn’t exactly what I was expecting to see.
Having been touted as serving culinary delights on par with Michelin-star restaurants, I guess I was thinking more along the lines of Crumplebury as having a fancier exterior. One of the wisest rules one should follow is never to judge a book by its cover.
The Green Cow Kitchens on the Whitbourne estate is housed in a red brick building, which was once a pigsty called Crumplebury. But owners Joe and Keely Evans had a vision to transform it into a pop-up dining space for friends and family.
Back then, it was a shabby chic setting of tables dressed in white linen, wildflowers picked and placed in make-shift vases, with the couple’s wedding candelabras functioning as intimate lighting and decoration.
The pop-up was a success, and Joe and Keely applied for planning permission to turn the pigpen into a restaurant. The approval paved the way for a solid oak floor, the central partition wall removed, the log burner relocated, and a small bar installed.
The newly plastered and painted walls were lined with original artwork produced by Joe’s sister, Megan and their father, Bill. Stepping inside today, it’s hard to imagine this 28-cover space was once a messy shack.
The Chef’s Table
With food being an integral part of this journey, the Chef’s Table is the pinnacle part of the list of events held at Crumplebury, and I was ready to be part of this particular experience during my two-night stay (more on the bedrooms later).
At the helm of the kitchen is Executive Chef Kevin Baron, whose vast experience includes stints in luxury hotels and restaurants in Scotland, the Cotswolds and Kenya. Carefully curated menus by Kevin and his team follow the seasons, with chefs foraging for wild garlic, fruits and berries from within the grounds while Mark, the gardener, grows herbs and vegetables in the garden.
Everything Crumplebury doesn’t produce is sourced locally where possible.
In an intimate setting, the dining tables at the Green Cow Kitchens are akin to a top-end restaurant. The tables are dressed simply and elegantly with mini vases containing flowers from the Cutting Patch, glasses arranged with precision and cutlery at your fingertips. Menus are neatly tucked behind the napkin for guests to peruse the forthcoming delights.
Champagne kickstarted the event before a couple of snacks in the shape of Short Rib Fritter with burger sauce, and Smoked Trout with watermelon appeared no doubt to open the palate.
Warm sourdough with ample wild garlic butter followed, and to be honest, it was so moreish I had to refrain from eating the lot for fear of peaking too early. The Crumplebury Tomato allowed me to get involved in the ‘preparation’ whereby I had to pour tomato stock from a mini white decanter over homemade ricotta, yuzu, broad beans and mint.
As each course arrived with precision, our host, Adrian, described the delectable dishes in front of us. The pork from the Lobster & Pig course was cooked for 14 hours and pressed before being presented on the plate, accompanied by pink grapefruit and green apple.
Lamb rack and shoulder served with pumpkin puree, potato and ewes curd garnished with black garlic formed the main. Organic lamb, beef and pork are supplied to the kitchen through a partnership with tenants Tim and Lara Roberts, who farm extensively and sustainably. And the proof was most certainly found in the taste of the lamb. Full of flavour, it was simply delicious.
The cheese was devoured atop fig sultana toast with sweet onion jam and curried pickle jam before the palette was changed to sweet treats. The chef had put a twist on the Scottish Cranachan served with Hereford strawberries soaked in Pimm’s, broken meringue and fig leaf oil.
The meal was perfectly rounded off with a rum and raisin chunk of fudge. While my belly couldn’t have been happier, I had to forcibly order my legs to head to my room so my body could follow to lie in a food coma on the gigantic bed.
Bedrooms and Events Space
While many diners travel specifically for a foodie meal, there’s an option for guests to extend their time at Crumplebury with an overnight stay in one of the ten farm and coppice rooms. Eager to lap up the countryside charm over a few days, I was booked into the Longlands room.
Contemporary, calm and indulgent, the bedrooms are designed to reflect the rural setting with rich, deep blues and soft greens, organic textures and delightful furnishings. My bed was gloriously comfy and, together with the velvet soft linen, provided for a good night’s sleep with zero noise.
I found further luxury in the bathroom via Bramley toiletries and a white roll-top stone bathtub. A framed tea-stained map adjacent to the bath informed me exactly where Longlands (the name of my room) is situated.
If you’re looking for an ultra-indulgent countryside getaway, I suggest booking The Oakley. The glamourous suite houses a giant four-poster bed facing a hand-finished copper roll-top bath and boasts floor-to-ceiling windows allowing for ample natural light.
The 18th-century red brick building is at Crumplebury’s heart, and the surrounding farm buildings have been transformed into delightful event spaces in their own right.
Hired for both business and leisure, the Art Gallery on the first level boasts breathtaking views from the gable-ended window to one side and a balcony overlooking the south-facing Sunken Terrace complete with a firepit to the other.
While I enjoyed a delectable BBQ during my stay (Trevase Farm lamb and Hereford Chicken with a Memphis-style BBG sauce being among many of the dishes), the rain meant I was unable to watch chefs cooking up a storm over the coals of the giant Asado grill.
The aptly named bar Drinking Trough sits directly below the gallery with a cosy Snug to the side from where a spiral staircase wine cellar underground glows from the orb-shaped floor glass. A Grand Hall with floor-to-ceiling glass windows with glittery chandeliers lends itself to a spectacular party area. It’s a magical place for a wedding.
Everything from the buildings to the surrounding land is intentionally sustainable here, and as Joe and Keely put it, they ‘strive to tread as lightly as possible on the planet.’
The spaces were architecturally designed to incorporate recycled estate timber and reclaimed red bricks from an old estate property. All the heat and hot water come from a biomass system fuelled by waste timber from the estate’s forestry operations.
Things to do
While guests can explore 1500 acres of land, including mixed hardwood and conifer woodlands at the Whitbourne estate, those wishing to venture a bit further afield may want to head to the historic market town of Bromyard just four miles away.
The traditional town just off the A44 in Herefordshire is full of many styles of buildings, including half-timbered inns and a Parish church, which date back to Norman times.
There are many galleries and quirky and independent shops to browse in, and you’re never too far from a coffee shop. And while you may not see any animals roaming around in the streets like in Crumplebury, there was a time when elephants, yes elephants, called this tiny place their home.
During the Second World War, children were not the only ones to be evacuated from England’s big cities to the countryside; animals were, too. Many, including the said trunked animals and bears, were placed in the Kings Arms pub car park.
The Cosy Café next to it has a framed picture of the evidence from the time. Rumour has it that many elephants escaped the car park in search of food and started to eat the washing off the line from a neighbour’s house, which is today the Cosy Cafe’s courtyard.
Fortunately, tourists of today won’t be faced with such sights on their visit to either Bromyard or Crumplebury, and there certainly won’t be a lack of food. Green Cow Kitchens has an army of loyal followers drawn to it by its sumptuous organic food. And with the ever-changing seasons and a list of foodie events marking the calendar, there will always be something new to try.
Crumplebury – Where and how?
Crumplebury is in Whitbourne, Worcester, WR6 5SG. Prices for Green Co Kitchens Chef’s Tables are £70 per person; for a complete list of events and more information, visit www.crumplebury.co.uk.
Read more dining features, news and guides here.