- The Gist: Acclaimed London chef swaps bright lights for rural bounty
- The Chef: Lee Westcott
- Location: Pensons Yard, Stoke Bliss, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire WR15 8RT
- Food in 5 words: Real British bounty expertly elevated
- See more: www.pensons.co.uk
How did we get here?
Chef Lee Westcott has exchanged the capital’s buzz for superior produce and more sustainable living on the Netherwood Estate.
Westcott has worked under some of the world’s most reputable chefs, from René Redzepi to Jason Atherton, and most recently flew to fame at the helm of The Typing Room in Bethnal Green, London. The restaurant was open from 2014 to last year and received four AA rosettes.
Westcott has perfected a modern and eclectic style of cooking, with an emphasis on seasonality. He credits this approach to his time at Noma, where he learned the true value of ingredients and began sourcing them meticulously.
Pensons, named after the farm on which it stands, is a collaboration between Wescott and Petra Darnley, managing partner of Netherwood. The two met whilst Petra was dining at The Typing Room, and the rest is history. After months of hard work, the restaurant opened to the public at the end of January and has already become a much-hyped gourmet getaway destination.
What’s different about it?
Pensons is far removed from Westcott’s previous outpost. Guests to the 1,200-acre estate eat seasonally, locally and sustainably. As much of the produce as possible comes from the surrounding grounds, with the exception of seafood, which comes from northwest Scotland or the Cornish coast. Much is foraged: fruit and vegetables are harvested directly from the kitchen gardens, and meat and game come from the onsite farm. The menu changes daily, ensuring that the estate crop is enjoyed at its peak.
Westcott aims to deliver fine dining in a relaxed and unfussy way. Guests can choose from a multi-course tasting menu, a two- or three-course lunch menu, or a three-course a la carte dinner menu.
A stand out is the care and attention Westcott gives to vegetables. "If you are a skilled chef with imagination, you will want to elevate a vegetable to something delicious and beautiful; to do all sorts of things to it that will surprise people," he told the website Great British Chefs.
All the ingredients on the menu are equally prized, but Westcott gets particularly excited about the rapeseed oil, cold-pressed on the estate. To add to that, one of the UK’s finest asparagus farms is a short distance away and premium Herefordshire beef is in plentiful supply.
Like Noma, Pensons is very much a work in progress. Waste from the restaurant is used as compost for the new season’s planting and the team is hoping to mill their own flour from the wheat crop.
You’ve got to try…
Order the artichoke, celeriac and truffle starter from the dinner menu and you’ll see how Westcott elevates the humble vegetable. And don’t miss out on the puddings. A combination of sheep’s yoghurt, apple and dill is justifiably renowned as the perfect palate cleanser.
Sparkie also likes…
The IPA sourdough served with cultured (Marmite) butter – the dish Westcott became famous for in his Typing Room days.
You want a memorable farm-to-fork education.