Interlude, an ambitious new restaurant in a recently restored manor house in a 200 acre parkland in Leonardslee Lakes in Horsham is not the usual place you would expect to find a fine dining restaurant serving up one of the most imaginative, seasonal and inventive menus I’ve had in a while.
The kitchen is headed up by South African transplant, Chef Jean Delport. He has been in the country for a few months and has had some time to get to know the gardens and learn how to work with the flora and fauna in the park. He is a culinary star in the making, way out there in the middle of the countryside near Horsham.
His tasting menu is called the Garden Experience where he uses a lot of ingredients foraged, grown and bred on the estate and some sourced from local farmers. With highly accomplished, imaginative and precise cooking, he delivered an unforgettable 14-course meal.
The front of house is expertly managed by his wife and her team. It was most impressive was the way they memorised the numerous ingredients and different methods of preserving, infusing and cooking used in every element of the dishes. And every dish had many, many elements, that is not obvious by the minimalist menu. I think the idea was to surprise and we were all pleasantly surprised and awed by the ingenuity.
Benguela Cove wines, a South African boutique winemaker also owned by Penny Streeter, are served with the meal. They have planted 4 acres of vines in Leonardslee and 39 acres at the Mannings Heath Golf Club. It will be a few years before they are producing enough for retail. Their South African vineyards produce up to 70,000 bottles a year.
The restaurant is currently open for afternoon tea and tasting menus. The newly refurbished manor house is the sophisticated backdrop where his inventive menu is served. The high ceilinged rooms are decorated with some of the original period pieces from the house, stunning wallpapers with some stylish new additions.
The Garden Tasting menu is 14 courses of inventive cooking using a lot of locals ingredients, forage from the park and used in unique ways.
Interlude Garden Experience
untraditional crackers, seeds, stones
rabbit eats carrot
foraged oyster, oca
bread, local butter
scallop, birch, Jerusalem artichoke
potato, estate egg, Exmoor caviar
shot pigeon, bbq, crushed blackberry
trenchmore wagyu, bone marrow, cod roe
Winslade soft, spruce bark, crab apple
sloe berry ice, nasturtium
sheep’s milk, bulrush, quince
estate acorn, 70% guanaja, brandy
beetroot • elderberry
lavender • honey
Here are the dishes in more detail.
Starting off with the Tree of Crackers, hung with crispy pieces of pigs ears and skin, served with the fish paste shaped like a rock.
They serve a South African brioche bun which uses a variety of seeds that they collected from the Gardens. With that, they serve the delicious mature butter with aged beef fat and onion dust.
Rabbits eat carrots – Light carrot dust covered croquettes filled with pulled estate rabbits, with a carrot dipping sauce. Simple but made complex but was a hint of the style of dishes to come.
Oyster -A poached oyster served with a dressing using home grown oca root, pickled green elderberries and sea vegetable greens. One mouthful but one with a flavours of the sea, different textures from the oyster and contrasting sea vegetables and a tang from the elderberries.
Cured and smoked scallops, Jerusalem artichokes, dressed with hazelnut oil, estated picked hazelnuts and homemade birch syrup. This birch syrup is made from tapping the birch trees on the estate. An unusual combination of ingredients but well balanced.
The wine chosen to pair with this is their Benguela Chardonnay.
One of the most spectacular and fun dishes of the day with a big wow factor. Sous vide egg yolk from one of their 38 free-range egg-laying hens, fed on a diet of corn and grains, potato foam, corn dust and Exmoor caviar. Served with some over sized soldiers to dip.
This next dish was my favourite, delicious morsels of rare pigeon in a rich jus and a fun play on Braii with the pigeon legs. Pigeon breast with pig and anchovy and crushed blackberry uses pigeons from the estate and the very Jurassic looking BBQ Pigeon legs is a nod to South African Braii, served with swiss chard.
The locally sourced 72 days aged Sussex Wagyu from Trenchman Farm served with garlic chips and fish roe emulsion was a great example of just letting the ingredient shine on the dish. Just the lightest touch in cooking served with an intense jus. Fab again.
72 day aged beef
Sloe Berry Ice sorbet with Nasturtium and Leondarslee gin granita and cabin pressure.
Sheeps milk sorbet, bull rush sauce, brick leaf and tuille, quince in honey, granola with wild rice, honeycomb, milk foam, buttermilk sponge, Acorn mousse, hazelnut syrup, brandy snap tuille dehydrated chocolate mousse, coffee cream.
And one dessert is not enough, we also had this Dogwood (a Japanese tree found on the estate) fruit ice cream in a malt tuille with chocolate nibs.
To finish, Lavender and honey bon bons, with an unexpected burst of flavour. Even when you thought you couldn’t possibly eat anymore, you will find room for these.
Leonardslee Gardens Horsham
This 200 acre Leonardleee Lakes and garden has been extensively restored and will be open to the public this summer.
Don’t miss their court of over 100 wallabies have been the longest resident here at the park. They were brought here in 1889 by naturalist Sir Edmund Loder. In the intervening years, their numbers have multiplied. They were freely roaming around the estate but now live in their own enclosure. In the gardens, you will find the rare Sicilian pines, some Japanese fruit trees, which yield a reddish fruit used to make the ice creams and so many more rare trees and plants. Details on their website.
Interlude restaurant is open from dinner from Wednesday to Sunday and you can book via their website: https://www.restaurant-interlude.co.uk/reservations
Horsham RH13 6PP
EatCookExplore was a guest of Interlude