Lunch with the kids Chef is magic ingredient at farm cafe
Located between the recently opened farm shop and the farm itself, the café at Windmill Hill City Farm has improved greatly over the past year.
The latest exciting twist in its renaissance has been the arrival of chef and Windmill Hill resident Mark Evans. Evans used to run Café Maitreya, the award- winning vegetarian restaurant in Easton but left last year to concentrate on other projects, including a brand new veggie restaurant in Lyme Regis, which opens early next year.
Until then, he is running the kitchen at the Windmill Hill City Farm and, I dare say, trying out a few new dishes on customers in the process.
Evans is only cooking here until Christmas and the fact there are just a handful of tables means that prompt arrival for lunch is essential if you don't want to wait or, worse still, risk the day's specials selling out in the process.
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Using as much local produce as he can get his hands on – some of it from the farm's allotments a few steps from the kitchen – Evans is clearly in his element running the café, which is a big draw for parents with young children visiting the farm.
Kids get their own menu offering plenty of sub-£3 meals, from filled jacket potatoes at £1.75 to scrambled eggs on toast (£2) and a "little big" breakfast at £3.
Adults get just as much choice and if the jacket potatoes, sandwiches and toasties don't tempt you, the short chalkboard of specials should.
On the first of two visits last week, I went for the homemade falafel wrap and salad (£4.75) – the warm, soft falafels cemented with smooth hummus, grated carrot and fresh mint leaves that really lifted the dish to another level. It arrived with three portions of salads – coleslaw, grated carrot and a glossy penne pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes and chopped herbs.
I returned two days later for the Catalan vegetable and bean stew, with ricotta dumplings (£5) – a deep bowl packed to the brim with tomatoes, various beans, cubes of squash, aubergine, green pepper, green olives, fresh thyme and chopped mint. On top, there were three light and fluffy pillows of ricotta dumplings and a scattering of pumpkin seeds for added crunch. It was a sort of rustic cassoulet without the meat.
Also on the menu was a deep and comforting mushroom frittata and a caramelised onion, mint, pea and Cheddar tart – both served with salad and both £4.50. Just look at those prices.