You are here:   Columns >  Restaurants > Let Them Eat Quinoa
 
It would be too unsatisfying to start a revolution here — the clientele wouldn’t know an over-and-under from a side-by-side if you shoved it up their nose. Everything about the Farmhouse’s pretensions is ludicrous, from the milk-float delivering breakfast hampers to the cozily minimalist chalets to the Aga wives with £400 blowdries lunching on quinoa salad, which altogether make it much too easy an object for satire. The real legacy of Marie-Antoinette is the paint: a particular greenish-grey, tilleuil or linden shade, which has emigrated via the original boiseries of the Petit Trianon via the Île de Ré to the upwardly mobile middle classes of England. (Trianon gris, the paint shade which the Austrian queen purportedly gave us, was actually the product of a 19th-century restoration; this is the real colour.) The green paint trails in Mr Jones’s wake like Lucifer’s cologne. Wherever you see it, you know you can’t be far from a knowingly rustic sausage sandwich and a plus-sized selection of complimentary Cowshed toiletries.

The paint has arrived in Somerset, at the Talbot Inn, in Mells, another picture-postcard English village, courtesy of its co-owner Charlie Luxton, a former Jones employee. Luckily, the silliness stops there. The Talbot is about as nice a pub as you could wish to find, a proper pub with a cobbled coachyard and a low-beamed bar. On weekdays, they serve actual pub food — excellent fish and chips, ploughman’s or roast-beef sandwiches — as well as a serious restaurant menu. The food is innovative but thoughtful, with a particular emphasis on really interesting vegetables — maple-roasted squash on buckwheat and pumpkin granola with crispy nettles must come as manna to vegetarians weary of stodgy lasagne, whilst Jerusalem artichoke and seaweed accompany Brixham squid or lean, flavourful Norwegian skrei cod. At weekends, the Coach House Grill, an airy, convivial space behind the pub does — well, grills. Weedy townies that we are, we felt intimidated by the meatboard — a huge platter of chicken, lamb, steak and pulled pork, but we rejoiced in a 42-day-aged sirloin with lashings of chips and proper béarnaise sauce. My venison steak with shallot sauce (and more chips) was springy, bloody velvet. It would have set Mme de Pompadour up a treat. The wine list was just right, too, combining some serious French choices with juicier New World bottles, none of them stupidly priced. The staff are friendly and helpful and seem pleased to be here, and nobody called me darling except my date.

But what really makes the Talbot such a brilliant destination is that it feels — dare I say it — authentic. There were families celebrating birthdays, the local rugby team in for a post-match booze-up, several young couples gazing and snogging at the smoking tables outside, even a pair of old codgers with pints and papers (though they may have been on a contract to Soho House). It felt like a pub, except a bit better. There are eight bedrooms if you want to make a weekend of it, a cookery school which organises events, and you can stroll up to the church to visit Siegfried Sassoon’s grave. Trianon paint aside, it is everything that Soho Farmhouse pretends to be but isn’t — a sensible, generous, open-hearted toast to pleasure, and not a porcelain milking churn in sight.

View Full Article
 
Share/Save
 
 
 
 

Post your comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.