Television chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is the man behind this charming and seasonally-led restaurant, which also has a sibling site in Axminster.
The River Cottage Kitchen is open every day for lunch and every day for dinner, expect on Sundays. The restaurant is found in the peaceful setting of Abbey Mill Gardens, which is a short walk from the city centre as well as many of Winchester’s other tourist attractions.
To fans of Fearnley-Whittingstall, it will come as no surprise that the food here champions seasonal ingredients and sustainably sourced produce. The à la carte is split between ‘only plants’, ‘organic meat’ and ‘sustainable shellfish’. From the vegetarian offering, you can order the likes of roast parsnip and ginger soup with apple, chilli and coriander or perhaps beetroot cakes topped with smoked English quinoa, toasted seeds, green herbs and parsley cream.
If you are of the school of thought that all good meals should include some meat, instead take your pick from River Cottage Kitchen’s selection of carnivorous dishes. Tempting options include hanger steak with beetroot ketchup, salsa verde and garlic roast mushrooms, or merguez sausage with squash and sage gnocchi, dill oil and crispy English lentils. The seafood section covers the likes of tagliatelle with clams, garlic and parsley, as well as mussels paired with rosemary focaccia. Of course, if none of those take your fancy, there is always the option to choose something straight from the specials board.
The dessert menu is as homey as you would expect in a place like River Cottage Kitchen. Diners with a sweet tooth can tuck into chocolate and Somerset Cider brandy tart with coffee caramel, or a warm almond cake with Bramley apples, lemon curd and whipped cream. If you prefer savoury delights, there is the option to enjoy a selection of cheeses – mature cheddar from Devon perhaps or Cornish Yarg.