Latest opening: Birch

By Restaurant

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Adam Firman
Image: Adam Firman

Related tags Robin Gill Birch Restaurant Hotel

A new country house hotel that has The Dairy's Robin Gill and Ben Rand overseeing the food at its two restaurants has opened its doors in Cheshunt.

What:​ A new hotel set within 55 acres of grounds in Cheshunt that is housed in a grade II listed Georgian mansion. Described as ‘looks like a hotel, but feels like a festival’ the hotel is home to 140 bedrooms, an on-site farm, two restaurants (the Zebra Riding Club and Valeries) and an interactive bakery. There’s also three bars, 20 event spaces, a co-working space, fitness studios, a pottery workshop, with a 25-metre lido due to open next year.

Who:​ Chris Penn, former managing director at The Ace Hotel in London, and entrepreneur Chris King, are the brains behind Birch. For their project they’ve brought in chef Robin Gill as well as former The Dairy head chef Ben Rand to oversee the output at the restaurants and the bakery. Birch will be growing much of the produce it uses on site thanks to farmer Tom Morphew.

The food:​ The hotel’s flagship restaurant the Zebra Riding Club takes a set menu approach, with separate options for pescatarians, vegans and those who are gluten intolerant. The menu, which is £48 per head, kicks off with snacks such as pan con tomate with Cantabrian anchovy; Grezzina courgette tartlet; snow peas with garden mint and Amalfi lemon; and grilled ox tongue, pickled onion and lovage. Other dishes include Swaledale lamb chop; grilled Breme onions, sunflower tahini; and fried lamb ribs with bread & butter pickle from The Feast section and blackberry ripple ice cream with white peach for desserts. Valeries, meanwhile, is a more informal offer from breakfast onwards, starting with early morning bites such as a cheese and Marmite bun; and a nduja and Cacklebean egg roll. Lunch items are small plates with many dishes vegetarian and vegan friendly, including squash, honey and nduja; and courgette, basil and honey flatbreads; white bean hummus, fennel seed crackers and raw vegetables although there are heartier dishes on offer to share - Galician octopus, warm salad of white beans, harissa, roast cauliflower and farm herbs; and whole roast herb-fed chicken, green salad, aioli, gremolata,   dripping pink fir potatoes and Birch bread. The dinner menu is broadly similar with the exception of the sharing plates, with evening dishes changing to smoked short rib, gherkin, mustard, baby gem and mustard crème fraîche; and spiced lamb shoulder, smoked aubergine, gremolata, roast fennel and flatbreads. There’s also a wide range of snacks to take out and eat in the Birch grounds, from sausage rolls to brown butter cookies. Dishes from Valeries can be eaten in the interactive bakery after you’ve got your hands floury.


The vibe:​ Both restaurants are bright and spacious with a modern feel. Located in a room with high ceilings, large bay windows, mini chandeliers and a distressed wooden floor, Valeries (above) complements the Georgian era of the building with school chair-esque wooden seating and unclothed patterned tables, while Zebra Riding Club has a darker colour palette with wicker seating and low hanging wicker lighting and has a bar area to the front that makes way fro the dining space beyond. The whole set up is impressive and the slick minimalist country-house styling is designed to give spaces like Soho Farmhouse a run for their money.

And another thing:​ Birch is the first of a number of spaces planned to open in the coming years by Penn and King, so expect to hear more from the pair.

Lieutenant Ellis Way, Cheshunt, EN7 5HW

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