ARLEY Hall has worked wonders on its Gardener’s Kitchen after teaming up with the award-winning Heritage Portfolio group.

The restaurant at the stately home was relaunched under the guidance of head chef Neil Faux towards the end of last summer. Since then visitors have enjoyed classic British dishes with a contemporary twist by the same company who provide catering services for the Queen.

So Weekend was invited to give The Gardener’s Kitchen a try on its most popular day – Fish and Chips Friday.

Coated in soft and crispy batter, the fish was cooked to perfection and was served with thick, handcut ‘rustic’ chips’ and minty mushy peas which were among the best I’ve had.

It is all served in a little wooden gardeners’ tray and there were also some great little touches like the Sarson’s mayonnaise and the particularly moreish tangy lemon pickle in tiny plant pots.

What also makes the experience a far cry from just a trip to the chippy is the restaurant itself. Set in a 500-year-old barn, The Gardener’s Kitchen is a beautiful part of the estate with exposed wooden beams and bricks and a minimalistic style.

Head chef Neil Faux, who used to work in catering for Heritage Portfolio at the Philharmonic Hall, said the idea was to offer an upmarket cafe experience at Arley and to bring the kitchen up to date with a focus on quality meats and locally sourced ingredients.

So the likes of gourmet sandwiches are available. Fresh cakes are made on site and can be matched with loose leaf teas.

I tried the salted caramel slice which was wicked but in a good way – incredibly rich and satisfying.

Other specials include the roast dinners on Sundays while the gourmet breakfast offerings include the likes of dry cured maple streaky bacon on English muffin with poached egg and homemade black pudding on sour dough with fried duck egg.

If you are visiting Arley Hall and Gardens, near Appleton Thorn, be sure to pop in.

It was quiet when Weekend visited on a Friday lunchtime and has that feel of being one of the area’s best kept secrets.


RECIPES written by the 18th century’s domestic goddess, Elizabeth Raffald, have been recreated in The Gardener’s Kitchen at Arley, the country home where she learnt her trade.

Visitors are able to sample her culinary delights – considered the Delia Smith of her time.

Steve Hamilton, general manager at Arley, said the estate was determined to pay tribute to the author of The Experienced English Housekeeper, which was one of the first cookbooks and a big hit when it was published in the 1700s.

It is believed The Experienced English Housekeeper went through 13 authorised editions and at least 23 pirated ones.

In 1773, she sold the copyright to her publisher for £1,400 – about £200,000 today.

It contains 800 original recipes and is split into three parts – the first being dedicated to browning, soups, fish, plain meat, game, pies and puddings.

The second covers confectionary and includes ‘directions to set out a table in the most elegant manner and in the modern taste.’ She goes on to explain the finer details of pickling, potting and distilling in the final section.