REVIEW: Wedding venue near Chichester launches new menu of fine dining
Even the most spectacular wedding venues have been affected by the strict government rules surrounding Covid-19.
Nuptials are being postponed, greatly reduced in scale or organised at very short notice to beat changing restrictions.
So Southend Barns, south of Chichester, is broadening its offering.
This week, the stunning Donnington venue — set in luscious landscaped gardens with hidden courtyards and tranquil lawns — launched the first of its weekly Sunday lunches in collaboration with the chefs at Roots, their in-house catering team.
What a feast it proved.
The high ceilings of the 200-year-old Threshing Barn with contemporary polished concrete floor and original wooden beams, gave a real sense of timeless ambiance. Peaceful, restful, and — in these difficult times - of spacious safety.
But the food itself was, rightly, the real story.
We were welcomed by host Marc Preston with a glass of local Tinwood. It was followed by a luxury three-course roast. Words cannot quite do justice to the quality — or quantity! — of the meal.
A delicate, fragrant starter — we chose the English Raspberry Gin cured salmon, allotment beetroot, horseradish yoghurt, watercress salad — was followed by the most succulent and tender of roast rib of beef cooked on the bone, watercress, horseradish cream, roast beef jus — and an allotment of vegetables.
Other choices included roasted chicken breast, confit chicken leg croquette, parsley, lemon and pine nut stuffing; and butternut squash, mushroom, spinach and beetroot wellington, roasted celeriac puree, and roast vegetable jus.
The dessert trolley was more a hay cart laden with goodies. Vanilla crème brûlée, blueberry & rosemary compote; Black Forest gateaux; Profiteroles filled with banoffee, salted caramel, raspberry & elderflower; classic sherry trifle; and Bakewell tart with amaretto custard.
Wow. And all home made.
At £45 per person to include the glass of Tinwood, it’s not the cheapest Sunday lunch in town. But on the evidence of the first Sunday, it must be one of the best.
This is supreme quality — and more important it shows once again how Chichester businesses are innovating during the current restrictions.
Special events are also planned, including a Back to the 80s dining experience with every course paired with appropriate wines on Friday (October 23) price £95 per person.
Mariella Fleming said: “We always wanted to do something with the barn. We had had a lot of family parties in there and people started asking if they could rent it. But we wanted to do it properly and we opened the barn for weddings in 2012.”
We attended as the guests of the venue as part of the Sunday lunch launch and our #supportChichester and #supportlocal campaign. However, this review is independent and honest and not linked to any advertisement.