Tucked away in the beautiful village of Upton, you will find Upton Hall, home of the British Horological Society. If you are anything like me, you will have seen the sign as you drive through Upton, but never ventured up the drive. Well, if you do, there you will find The Clock House – Café and Tea Room.
Indeed, it is a lovely café and tea rooms, with fantastic slabs of home made cakes, delightful loose leaf tea and rich robust coffee served every day from 10am – 4.30pm but during the first Friday and Saturday of each month this place opens its doors at 7.30pm to a exclusive number of diners who wish to partake in what some would recognise as a sort of supper club. Using the very best local and seasonal ingredients this small handful of diners, the tea room must seat 30 at most, get the chance to sample six delicious courses of a monthly changing menu for only £40 per head. So after listening to people rave about this delightful little place I decided to check it out for myself this month.
On arrival we were greeted with a complementary glass of Prosecco, light and bubbly it kicked off the evening in style, after all who doesn’t love a glass of the fizzy stuff! Led to our seats, we sat at a wonderful old fashioned scrubbed table with a little posy of wild flowers, sweet peas and lavender smelled delightful, their fragrance wafting in the warm evening air which came through the open door from the lawned gardens.
Our canapé was a wonderful spoon of goats cheese and shavings of beet root, well presented and super tasty, a little something to get your taste buds tingling before moving onto the creamy cup of celery soup appetiser. Served with a side of homemade chunks of granary bread, the serving was just enough to wet your appetite but keep you wanting more….
Onto the starter which was a delightful Terrine of Smoked Chicken, an eye catching slice of flaked chicken and mushrooms with a generous side of Parma Ham, Melba Toast and a very generous spoon of Peach Chutney. Nice, tasty, light and a great dish to lead us into our main course.
Roast Fillet of Halibut, perfectly cooked, firm but flaky, the fish was light and fragrant with a serving of salty Samphire and paired with Cauliflower Purée, Baby Leeks, Fennel and topped off with a Sauce Vierge- that’s a wonderful combination of Tomato and Basil to the likes of you and me. This dish was a promise of summer, light and tasty, I have to confess I was truly sad as I ate my last mouthful as I just was not ready for it to end…but it had to, after all it needed to make way for dessert.
Boy did dessert put a smile back on my face – a Trio of Summer Desserts. Gooseberry Crumble, now at this point I should confess I am not a fan of these little hairy green berries, quite frankly eating them leaves me cold but WOW. The sharpness of the gooseberry combined with the amazingly sweet crumble topping was a perfect pairing, sweet and sharp flavour combining at it’s very best – I loved it. Then swiftly onto a Rum Roasted Peach, simple, fresh and flavoursome, this served alongside a wonderful Vanilla and Strawberry Pannacotta really did provide a delicious end to a lovely meal.
So to round off the evening, I finished with a nice cup of tea ‘how very British of me’, served in a lovely china cup and saucer, my loose leaf Earl Gray came with homemade rich dark chocolate truffles and what can only be described as some grown up fruit pastilles, a small square of homemade black current jelly petit fours. Totally Yummy.
At the end of the evening Edward the chef and owner popped out to say a quick hello and thank you to everyone for joining him, you can see from chatting with him how he loves what he does, his passion for providing, good unpretentious locally sourced food is clear to see and everyone there that night seemed to share his love of the concept and the friendly effortless way in which he delivered his menu, I know I did.
It might just be worth noting that The Clock House only has a very limited amount of wine so if you are looking to drink something in particular you are advised to bring along your own bottle. Corkage is charged at £8 per bottle but there are plenty of soft drinks and carafes of iced water if you wish.
So if you are looking for simple, well cooked local produce in an informal setting (think supper club concept, set menu, small exclusive amount of diners, all served together in an intimate friendly setting) then get the first Friday or Saturday of each month firmly booked into your diary. The following months menu is posted on their website so you can check it out before you book. Alternatively I have been told they serve some of the best Sunday lunch in the area, or call for a weekend brunch, afternoon tea, or visit and indulge in a great cup of tea and a big fat slab of homemade cake – come on what’s not to love.
The Clock House café & tea room