The Wandering Kitchen in Yattendon Village Hall
ELLIS BARKER has a taste of fine dining in Yattendon
Anyone could be forgiven for thinking they were at a wedding breakfast when attending a Wandering Kitchen evening.
Greeted with a bubbling glass of champagne, candlelit tables, soothing background music and the sound of laughter, it was a very pleasant welcome. It looked like somebody had spent a lot of time and money transforming Yattendon Village Hall into the venue for a rustic and homely wedding gathering.
And that was exactly the effect that soon-to-be-wed couple Ed Chapman and Jo Woodcock wanted to create for their touring restaurant business. It was born just over two years ago out of the couple’s rekindled passion for the catering industry, having both begun their working lives in the field before exploring other ventures.
Ed, who grew up in Compton, was head chef at The Four Points inn in Aldworth for some time and has provided the catering for prestigious events such as Henley Regatta and Royal Ascot, while Jo ran coffee shops in Stoke-on-Trent, her home town, before moving to do the same in Toronto. We had ordered our food in advance, so knew what to expect.
All of it is sourced locally where possible, with meat from Vickers Game in Ashampstead and fresh fruit and vegetables from Savages of Didcot – it added to our enjoyment to know that we were supporting local businesses. The crafted oak tables and pottery were from Stoke-on-Trent.
However, delicious as the food was, my vegetarian partner, Michael, was still hungry after his feta and Gruyère fritters, which came with a homemade tomato chutney and some seasoned runner beans. Meanwhile I had wolfed down a substantial lamb shank.
“It was gorgeous, it’s just a shame it wasn’t accompanied by other vegetables or a side dish,” he said. “There could have been more. It’s the same old story for vegetarians trying to have a nice meal out.” It was the same for the starter. While I enjoyed a luxurious platter comprising lobster, caviar, game terrine and mushroom Wellington, Michael – who doesn’t eat fish or seafood – was left with just the mushroom Wellington, plus olive tapenade on a muffin.
None-the-less, the starter that he did have was thoroughly enjoyed. On that evening’s menu, which changes regularly, diners could also have opted for a fillet of beef with white bean mash, bone marrow butter and sauce château or a glazed fillet of salmon with creamed leek, mashed potato and roasted vine tomatoes. Dessert hit the spot for us both, Michael ordering a cinnamon and apple crumble and myself a salted caramel chocolate brownie. We felt that the service could have been quicker, but then it did create a welcome break from the usual rush of a chain restaurant meal.
However, given that Ed was battling in the kitchen with only one gas ring to cook on, the exceptional food was a fantastic achievement. It could have been complemented by a little more attention to detail, such as someone to take coats from guests on arrival, or pour the table water, but that’s to be really fussy. If you are looking for a change from the village pub and something that is a bit quirky, the Wandering Kitchen can provide a truly original evening.