- December 3, 2018
When I first moved to Brighton from “that London” one of the things that I wanted to do was get to know not only the city but the county, both east and west too. At the weekends I would head off to listen to folk music in Firle, do country dancing in Newick and of course visit the huge number of beautiful country houses and gardens. None thrilled me more than Leonardslee where sensational planting and lakes created thrilling vistas – and there were wallabies too!
Sadly the estate was purchased by a man who not only left it to fall ino ruin but finally abandoned it – both the house and the grade I listed gardens – and of course those wallabies. Well the good new is that a successful business woman and entrepreneur has bought the estate, and after huge investment in both gardens and structure has rescued the whole caboodle – and rather brilliantly!
Wild flights of culinary fancy
The gardens will open to the public next spring but she has already installed a brilliant young chef from South Africa where she owns vineyards, wineries and restaurants and the new restaurant at Leonardslee is called Interlude. I was lucky enough to be invited along to sample the exotic tasting menu, and some of her very good South African wines, at a lunch of epic
proportions and gargantuan delights. Too many courses by far to list here, but executive chef Jean Delport and his brigade had certainly put their principles of local sourcing of ingredients including many foraged from the estate to the test.
It was an exquisite experience, sensational dish after dish, stunning visual presentations and moments of pure silence as we relished the adventurous combinations of flavours and textures. For me the real highlights were a dish of fallow deer confit made from estate made biltong, layered with fine slices of wild mushroom, a stunning egg dish with caviar and a dessert of indulgent delight made from acorns – who would have thought ? Yes acorns. There was much much more, around 14 dishes in fact with some extraordinary breads and crackers, nut butters, fish and meat patés… yes wild flights of culinary fancy and I certainly think this will become a kitchen to watch – and as a real treat indulge in. I came away sated but at he same time craving more and I am sure more will come as the estate enjoys its renaissance.