Do the staff at Yeo Valley
know how good they’ve got it, I wonder, as I stroll down a corridor lined with an eclectic bunch of photos including, variously, David Bowie, Bob the Builder, and Tim Mead’s home brewed cider into a glass fronted restaurant with drop dead views across Blagdon Lake.
Welcome to Fodder
, where Yeo’s staff can feast on dishes such as venison terrine with green tomato chutney, a grilled Holt Farms beef burger with skinny fries or smoked haddock risotto for just four pounds.
Last year the Mead family decided to recruit Michelin-trained chef Paul Collins and open up the canteen to the public during the week (lunchtimes only, Monday to Friday).
The rest of us don’t get the wallet-busting subsidy but you will find an interesting menu of fiercely local ingredients (almost everything comes from the farm) and the views are immense with a huge decked platform for al fresco lunching.
The new look canteen has been redesigned by Sarah Mead, mostly with Ebay finds she says. It’s a witty, irreverent style which is characteristic of the brand – mirror balls on the ceiling, mismatched mid-century chairs, a collection of cullendars hung on the walls and lit up from within. All this before we get to the ladies’ loos, painted boudoir pink with rose coloured towels, a basket filled with 1930s hairdryers, a birdcage showcasing old mirror compacts and feather hats –Sandra Dee sleepover territory, definitely.
The menu changes each day though there’s always a soup (Jerusalem artichoke and almond on my visit) and several vegetarian options and main courses never nudge above £9.
The cooking here is reminiscent of Riverford Field Kitchen or, just down the road, The Ethicurean - highly seasonal produce given a twist. So you’ll find Oxtail croquettes (from Holt Farms) with Yeo Valley Soured Cream, horseradish and parsley or roasted beetroot and fresh ewes curd tart with Holt Farms pea shoots. Naturally puddings are of the organic milk variety - orange and passion fruit panacotta with caramel orange compote, chocolate brownie with Yeo Valley Madagascan Vanilla ice cream.
Great food, good pricing, nice view. Almost worth getting a job at Yeo Valley, we’d say.