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Heritage tomatoes, grown by Martin Ashley in the kitchen garden at Lewtrenchard Manor

Review September 2020
Lewtrenchard Manor

Sue Stoneman escapes to the moors to sample the Soil to Plate experience at this magnificent Jacobean manor house

I can’t think of a better way to spend a day. The early start for Lewtrenchard’s Soil to Plate experience added to the excitement of what I can best describe as a mixture of a gardener’s delight and a foraging foodie treat.

Dating back to the 1600s, Lewtrenchard Manor has charm and character in abundance for anyone who ventures over the moors to visit. This culinary event is a super opportunity to learn about the history of this family-run Jacobean manor house, and also explore the beautiful grounds and dine in the magnificent restaurant.

After enjoying a leisurely coffee in the lounge with fellow green-fingered guests, we went outside to meet Head Gardener, Martin Ashley. A very interesting talk and walk around the beautiful gardens and orchard followed, with a glimpse in the greenhouse which was full of ripening tomatoes of all different colours, and then into the amazing walled vegetable garden. The soil was bursting with produce, including artichokes, potatoes and neat rows of leeks. Green leaves hid the array of colourful carrots still growing underneath. The polytunnel was crammed with onions laid out to dry, pots of fragrant basil plants and the biggest pumpkins I’ve ever seen! There are plenty of opportunities to walk around and ask questions about your own gardening projects too.

Head Chef Tom Browning and Martin work closely together when planning which fruit and vegetables to grow. Produce is picked and collected every morning, and then taken into the kitchen where Tom creates the menu from the laden wheelbarrow.

Once you’ve lost yourself in this world of Beatrix Potter as I did, you head back to the Manor for a cookery demonstration. Tom talked through the menu, which we would feast on later, and expertly showed us how to prepare fresh scallops, cut up a duck and make vegetable crisps. He also gave hints and tips for the keen cooks among us to try out at home.

Tom is happy to answer any culinary questions while he is working his magic on the excellent ingredients. “Start with a good product and you end with a good product,” says Tom, and he sure knows how to make every dish dance with colour, texture and flavour.

Just as our tummies started to rumble, lunch was served in the restaurant. Every dish was pretty as a picture and bursting with flavours. And we enjoyed every bite as we reminisced about the delightful day spent here.

Sample Menu

  • Raw diver scallop, tomato, lovage
  • Braised ox cheek, leek, mustard seed, kale
  • Glazed duck breast, beetroot, molasses, fennel pollen
  • Iced rhubarb parfait, apple, raspberry, crumble


Soil to Plate: £32.50 per person

Coffee and petits fours: £5.00 per person

Sue loves the complete experience from learning new cooking techniques to being inspired to grow more vegetables in her garden
Lewtrenchard Manor
Devon EX20 4PN

01566 464079

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