REVIEW: Birchwood, near Ticehurst
Muddy headed to Birchwood restaurant within Flimwell Park, a pioneering new mixed-use woodland centre set in East Sussex.
I was intrigued by Birchwood, the third restaurant from Will Devlin – it’s not the usual location for a Green Michelin starred chef, being part of a new sustainable work/live space scheme just off the A268 near Ticehurst.
Like his other two successful restaurants, (and Muddy regulars), the The Small Holding in Kilndown and The Curlew in Bodiam, Birchwood is focused on self-sufficiency and the flavours of the natural landscape its part of.
Not sure I had come to the right place initially, the small restaurant is a striking wooden building (sustainably sourced timber of course), amongst a collection of eco-friendly work spaces all with solar power and water heated by the sun. With a lovely community feel, Birchwood feels like the centre of a cool artistic initiative and the locals clearly love it. We pulled up next to a line of Tesla electric chargers which set the tone for the eco-credentials of the site.
Inside its casual and cosy with relaxed benches draped with sheepskin and a large window overlooking the terrace and woods beyond. The menu (which changes daily), is projected onto the wall to minimise waste and lunch features snacks and a choice of three options for starters, main and dessert.
SCOFF AND QUAFF
Will uses ingredients that are local, seasonal and wild such as mushrooms, brambles, elderberries, wood sorrel and birch sap that have been foraged and sourced from the ancient woodland the restaurant overlooks. He also champions the artisan suppliers of Kent and Sussex, including local cheeses, Muddy favourite Bean Smitten Coffee, wines, spirits, and beer.
The adjoining Focal Building will be home to a rooftop greenhouse so that produce can be grown all the year round so many of the vegetables and herbs will be as fresh as they can be, and will have travelled the shortest distance possible!
I visited in October, when the restaurant was decorated for Halloween with all shapes and sizes of gourds displayed beautifully amongst the coffee machine and in the windows.
To start I chose the Crown Pumpkin Soup (above) which was thick, creamy and utterly delicious, next up was Hake with new season potatoes and a herb dressing which was cooked to perfection.
My husband went for the Pheasant (below) which was served with Hispi (a surprisingly delicious charred cabbage), and red pepper puree. Needless to say he wasn’t keen to share!
To finish we tried Kent raspberries with meringue, which wasn’t sickly sweet like so many, but just the right sort of chewy and the chocolate mousse with hazelnuts and blackberries was equally as good.
The restaurant offer an all-day menu for breakfast and lunch and is open seven days a week, from 8am-4pm. Takeaway coffee is available and a dinner service is planned in the future. Amazing value for the quality – three course lunch £30.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
If you’re concerned about what’s on your plate, Birchwood’s eco credentials are strong. Its unfussy, simple food cooked with imagination and thought. Its the perfect pitstop for lunch after a walk in the woods.
Burger and chip fans or lovers of menus with huge amount of choice. Birchwood is select, sustainable and all perfectly cooked so don’t expect international cuisine or junk food.
Birchwood, 13 Flimwell Park, Hawkhurst Road, Ticehurst, England TN5 7FJ