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Hilltop Kitchen

Hilltop Kitchen

July 22, 2022

Hilltop Kitchen

Enjoying stunning views overlooking the Wintershall Estate and Hascombe Hill, Hilltop Kitchen serves up exceptional freshly made food and a menu boasting the best locally sourced produce. A joint venture between founders Alex Winch and Sam Fiddian-Green, it’s become the most talked about foodie destination in the area. We love it and we know you will too. We chatted to co-founder Alex to find out more…

Tell us about Hilltop Kitchen

Sam I are old family friends and our work in hospitality has taken us around the world. When we found ourselves back in the local area due to Covid, we decided to plan some pop-up events and the concept snowballed quite quickly. We opened Hilltop Kitchen in July 2021 and today as well as the pop-up events, we offer a daily changing menu that runs all summer long.

It’s a fantastic setting. How did you find it?

The site is located on Sam’s family’s farm and looks out over nothing but rolling hills. The space itself had been an office so we installed a kitchen and created a covered, heated area that makes the most of the amazing view. It’s a rustic, laidback feel - the tables are handmade and Sam’s mum is a potter so she made all the tableware.

Hilltop Kitchen

What is the philosophy of the dishes you create for Hilltop Kitchen?

Most of what we serve up is sourced from the local area, including meat, such as the Herdwick lamb that comes from the family farm or the wild garlic we pick from the woodlands down the road. Provenance is key and we’re very proud of the heritage of everything we serve. When we first came back to the area, we struggled to find food at a level we enjoy and so nothing makes it onto the menu unless it’s the absolute best.

Hilltop Kitchen

Talk us through some of the things we can expect on your menu and what are some of your most popular dishes?

We bake our Sausage rolls fresh every morning. They are made with the best ingredients money can buy including sausage mix using mince from John Murray butchers in Loxwood and wrapped in French puff pastry. Served warm with homemade brown sauce, they are pretty hard to beat!

Our Focaccia is baked in-house and you’ll find fresh cinnamon buns on the counter every morning. We’re influenced by what’s fresh and at its best, so for instance our Burrata (which comes from La Latteria in North London) may be served one week with shaved fennel, European citrus and olives and then the next with fresh peas and broad beans. We make our own tagliatelle – sometimes as little as 10 minutes before we open, so you know you’re eating it as fresh as can be.

Sam, who creates the menus has worked at a phenomenal level throughout his career and he spent six months in Rome, which definitely gives some of the dishes an Italian backbone, but always featuring the best of British.

You’re also known for serving up a cracking cup of coffee

At Hilltop, we take our coffee very seriously and a lot of research went into finding our favourite beans, which are supplied by Horsham Coffee Roaster. Horsham Roasters are obsessed not only with flavour but also about ethical coffee. They source directly from producers in long term commitments to the same farmer meaning they pay well above the fairtrade price. Back home the beans are roasted using a state-of-the-art low emission roaster and carefully blended to create its Workhorse coffee. To us, the ethics had to match up and be as scrupulously good as the taste.

Who is Hilltop kitchen popular with?

Hilltop Kitchen was set up with locals at its heart and we love the fact that our reputation has spread through word of mouth and we’ve become part of the Godalming community. We’ve become a regular haunt for walkers and cyclists who will stop off on their routes for a coffee or a cold beer.

Tell us about some of your own favourite local foodie hangouts and suppliers?

There are some great farm shops in the area. Sam is a fan of Secretts, close to where he lives, while I’ll tend to go to Kingfisher Farm Shop near my home in Abinger. We love what they’re doing at Greyfriars Vineyard and for beer, the Arctic Fox Pilsner from The Crafty Brewing Co. in Dunsfold is the best you could ever drink on a hot day.

Hilltop Kitchen

What’s next for Hilltop Kitchen?

We love doing our evening pop-up events, which run on a first-come, first-served basis every month. Although we close our daily menu at the end of the summer, as autumn and winter draw in, we’ll be offering banquet-style menus where you come along, eat seasonally and enjoy a hot toddy or a mulled cider. And apart from that, we’re talking about plenty of other plans too. It’s very exciting.

 

Hilltop Kitchen, Combe Farm Buildings, Alldens Lane, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AP is open Thursday – Sunday from 9am serving coffee and fresh pastries, lunch from 12am, snacks, drinks and good times from 3pm to 6pm⁠

Find out more:

Follow Hilltop Kitchen on @hilltop.kitchen. To book a table online, go to hilltop-kitchen.co.uk.

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Steve and Laura Drake of Sorrel restaurant in Dorking

sorrel-restaurant

July 22, 2022

Interview with Steve and Laura Drake of Sorrel restaurant in Dorking

It’s been an agonising year for the hospitality industry but the resilient team behind Dorking’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Sorrel, continues to win accolades and is fighting back with a new range of at home suppers and local business partnerships. We spoke to owners Steve and Laura Drake about how they’ve weathered the storm. 

How did the idea for Sorrel Suppers come about?

Steve: Last year when we closed, we didn’t think it would go on as long as it did. I certainly thought we’d continue to be open after the summer and everything would be okay. So initially I was resistant to the take away idea – I didn’t want to turn out something that wasn’t ‘Sorrel’ and we weren’t sure if it would be possible to recreate that experience at home. 

Laura: We also have children, who we were homeschooling, and we felt it was important to prioritise that and make the most of having Steve at home for a while. 

Steve: So, the suppers came about at New Year. The restaurant was fully booked but then we were told to close again and we had something like 200 portions of venison in the fridge, sauces, stocks etc. So, we adapted the menu and did it as a takeaway, if anything so we could work and give the team and our customers a bit of a boost because everyone was really down. We thought we might get 50 orders but ended up doing 140! 

Laura: And the feedback was just incredible – the photos people sent and comments… everyone was urging us to do more. 

What can people expect from a Sorrel Supper? 

Steve: What I hope we can bring to people’s tables at home is the skill we utilise in the kitchen at Sorrel. We work just as hard on the creative menu creation as we would in the restaurant. Some of the dishes take days to prepare, one of the sauces we provided in a recent Sorrel Supper had 25 ingredients for example, and that’s a lot for the average home cook! I didn’t want to set people up to fail at this. It’s really important that the dishes are all Sorrel dishes but something that people can do at home relatively easily. We pre-poach the meat for example so all you have to do is colour it in the pan, the sauces just need to be heated through and then, of course, you can add the final finishing touches. 

Laura: After the first couple we decided to do an Instagram Live video to accompany the meal so Steve can demonstrate how to prepare the dishes and people can ask questions – it’s been really good fun and there’s been an amazing feeling of camaraderie. 

How have they been received thus far? 

Laura: The response has been amazing – each supper has sold out within 48 hours of us launching! People have been sharing pictures of their meals on Instagram and we’ve been so impressed with how they look. People are now doing zoom parties so there’s groups of 10 or so who watch Steve’s videos with a cocktail and then ‘cook together’ but individually from their own households. 

How have you been able to involve other local businesses? 

Laura: We started thinking about how else we could help recreate the ‘Sorrel experience’ at home so we ended up producing these Sorrel candles for Valentine’s, we’ve now got Sorrel aprons and bags,  we’ve also teamed up with Nest in Ripley and Cherfold Flowers in Hambledon as additional pick up points – the idea being that we hope people might then grab a coffee when they pick up their Sorrel Supper or order some flowers as a gift or to add a special addition to their tablescape. 

Steve: Everyone is struggling at the moment, so it’s nice that we’ve been able to try and involve other local businesses, particularly ones on our doorstep, and we’d love to explore ways of working with others in the future too.

What have you learnt over the past year? 

Laura: How amazing our team is. It’s been such a difficult time for them but they have all really stepped up. And our customers, who have been so supportive – when we have been open, it’s been so busy and we’ve really appreciated their loyalty. 

Steve: As a small, independent business we’re able to react quickly and make changes. I’m one of those people who’s not scared of making a mistake. Hopefully I’ve made more good decisions than bad but if I do make a mistake I try not to beat myself up, I move on and try something different. This is something I’ve learnt with experience but has been particularly useful over the past year.    

How will Sorrel look as a business once restaurants can re-open again?

Steve: It’s been an interesting year and it’s made us look really long and hard at our business model – at opening hours, staffing levels etc. I actually think that when we are able to re-open, we’re going to have a better business than when we closed last year.  

Find out more

Sorrel Suppers are available fortnightly and cost £60pp. Visit sorrelrestaurant.co.uk to sign up to the Sorrel newsletter and find out what’s on the latest menu and you can follow Sorrel on Instagram @sorrel_restaurant_dorking and on Facebook @SorrelRestaurantDorking