Another sunny afternoon; another farm café. Yes, friends, it’s hard enough work reviewing the Island’s food at the best of times, but summer is a particularly strenuous season for diligent Matt and Cat, as they dash from one end of the Island to the other in an attempt to keep up with the latest arrival on the scene.
Now it happened one afternoon that Matt was working way out west with a colleague, whilst Cat was busy elsewhere. When lunchtime came around he was right next to Kings Manor Farm Café, Freshwater. The word has been positive about this most recent of many farm cafés and so Matt took the obvious steps to exploit the situation.
The farm café and shop is in a modest former agricultural building, with a pleasant view over some nearby fields in which a few of the farm’s Hebridean sheep graze scenically, along with an aged donkey for which one can purchase carrots if so inclined. Matt and companion spent some time discussing what the building could once have been, and settled eventually upon a forge. Today, the café is a clean and sparkling new place, with seating both inside and outside, and a range of typical farm shop goods to buy. The place was quiet at the time of Matt’s visit. The cheerful lady at the till confirmed that food was certainly available, and was pleased to indicate the menu.
Kings Manor is an organic farm of impeccable pedigree, and so it’s no surprise to find a host of very locally-produced items on the menu. Matt was immediately drawn to the Kings Manor steak club sandwich, described as served on toasted Island bread with a horseradish, wholegrain mustard mayonnaise, leaves, tomatoes and onions. The club sandwich – a term used to describe more-or-less any kind of sandwich with three slices of bread as opposed to two – is a rarely-seen and unjustly overlooked dish, and can vary from the sublime to the ridiculous. Matt was interested to see how Kings Manor would render this classic. His companion chose an 8oz Kings Manor gourmet burger, with the optional Kings Manor Burger Relish. The café’s own website promises much of this delicacy:
“Our speciality dish at the Kings Manor farm shop café will be gourmet burgers made with our own organic Aberdeen Angus beef and other local ingredients. Made to a mouth-watering secret recipe and served with our own relish, specifically made locally to complement our beef! Probably the best burger on the Island!”
After a pleasant interlude sipping apple juice on the sunny patio, the meals arrived in plenty of time to ensure the workers wouldn’t need to tarry too long. The chaps were delighted with what they saw. It appeared to be a splendid repast indeed. Matt’s club sandwich was simply packed with hot, freshly-cooked steak, nicely pink and oozing juices. It was served in the most delicious bread, freshly toasted. If ever there was an argument for local food quality, this bread would surely be the prime exhibit. Rarely do even quite up-market places bother going beyond sliced bread for sandwiches. But to use Island-produced bread (the same bread was on sale in the shop) not only meant a lot in terms of local provenance but also tasted great. The gourmet burger, similarly, was a fresh, meaty construction in an Island-made bap which in every respect was a far cry from almost any other burger you’ve ever seen. The best burger on the Island? A contender, for sure. And what of the specifically made relish? Well worth the extra 50p, was the verdict. It was a kind of chutney-like taste, and went with the tasty meat perfectly.
Club sandwich £6.50
Gourmet burger £6.50
Burger relish 50p
On digging in, the diners did not find their meals wanting. Having built up an appetite after a morning rooting through hedgerows and other similar arduous tasks, they wasted no time in doing justice to these impressive lunches. Both meals came with a fresh salad accompaniment, and a copious supply of those moreish root vegetable crisps. Washing these morsels down with the last of the apple juice, Matt and companion were able to get off back to work refreshed and replete.
Kings Manor Farm Shop café is a modest place that serves some really great food. The emphasis on ultra-local ingredients gives a quality to the food that would be hard to equal. Matt decided that he’d have to bring Cat over to try some of it out for herself.
Kings Manor Farm Café