Coombeshead Farm describes itself simply as a farm, guesthouse, restaurant and bakery but, trust me, this is a farm, guesthouse, restaurant and bakery like no other. For anyone who is passionate about what they eat, you must head for this Cornish wonder in Lewannick near Launceston.
I wouldn’t describe it as a restaurant or B&B because the Coombeshead experience is so much more than that; it’s stepping in to a beautifully relaxed, informal, comfortable country house where you feel instantly at home. A bit of a cliché I know but it’s actually spot on here.
Drinks and nibbles are served in the sitting room and library of the main farmhouse where you mingle and chat with other guests: squishy sofas, big fireplaces, an excellent Tarquin’s gin cocktail with blackberry and nettle cordial, interesting company and delicious ‘nibbles’ (a cured plate, bean and mint tarts and pig’s head with apple ketchup for us). You’re looked after by Tom Adams, the very gifted chef behind Coombeshead, and his small team – and they make it seem effortless. It’s understated, it’s relaxed, it’s just part of the Coombeshead experience. You chat with them while drinks are being served and food being brought out of the adjoining kitchen.
The food is fresh and entirely seasonal. There’s no menu – you really do eat what is in season and what is available – and it works because you anticipate every course, plus it makes you a bit more adventurous, eating dishes you mayn’t choose otherwise.
Dinner is served in a barn across the courtyard from the main house, with guests on long tables. And what I hadn’t been expecting was a purpose-built kitchen in here, all open to the barn, so Tom and his team are in full view. And it makes fascinating viewing: the staff work quietly, efficiently and calmly; they know what they’re doing and they just get on with it. They chat to guests, some guests take photos, and Tim, one of the chefs, is on hand to answer any questions about the food and what each course is.
It’s a five-course taster menu starting off with their delicious homemade sourdough bread served with an array of tasters but especially good was the tomatoes with blackcurrant leaf oil and pork fat terrine with wild garlic capers. Pork appears quite a bit on the menu because a rare breed of pigs (Mangalicas) are farmed at Coombeshead. Also worth a particular mention was the grilled leek with smoked whey butter, lovage and buckwheat, the flavour of the lovage really coming through.
But it was all delicious. And I wasn’t the only one to think so, all the guests were equally enthused. I felt rather envious of those staying the night in one of the five rooms but may be that’s the excuse I need for a return visit.