Leonardslee Gardens in West Sussex, the site of the UK’s first Pinotage vineyard, has opened its 36-cover fine dining restaurant called Interlude, with tasting menus featuring ingredients foraged from the 200-acre estate.
The Leonardslee Estate and Gardens were bought by Zimbabwe-born British/South African entrepreneur Penny Streeter OBE back in 2017. Streeter, who also owns South African wine and hospitality group the Benguela Collection and nearby Mannings Heath Golf and Wine Estate, intended to restore the historic 200 acre estate, Grade I listed gardens and Grade II listed 19th century mansion house.
The Pinotage vineyard, the first planting of the South African grape variety in the UK, was established in June this year, comprising 0.5 hectares. If successful, the vines will be used to produce a still red Pinotage to complement the English sparkling wine, due to be released by Mannings Heath. Otherwise, the Pinotage will be added to the base wine for the English sparkling. The first crop is expected in 2020 with the first wines due to be released in 2023.
Speaking at the time of the planting, executive chef of the new restaurant, South African Jean Delport, said he had ambitions to obtain a Michelin star.
The 36-cover restaurant will be open for dinner from Wednesday through to Saturday with a total of 10 tables available to book.
Dishes reflect the chef’s South African heritage with dishes including biltong, produced from deer grazing on the estate, as well as mosbolletjie, a traditional Afrikaans or Cape Dutch bread usually made with leftover grape must, but here infused with fennel.
Other plates include pumpkin and pine (estate-sourced pine served three ways: as an emulsion, an oil and dust with goats curd, pickled pumpkin and pumpkin seeds); estate-sourced rabbit, winter purslane, hogweed cider and charcoal; smoked bacon custard, diced pear, pear dressing, rowan berries and veal sweetbreads; foraged acorn (acorn mousse with 70% Guanaja chocolate, hazelnut sponge, coffee cream, salted caramel, dehydrated chocolate mousse and acorn smoke); and strawberry ‘wall’, pistachio and wasabi.
Guests can choose from the Garden Menu, priced at £90 per person, or the Estate Experience, priced at £120. The restaurant seats all tables at 7pm, with the bar open at 6pm.
Interlude opens after 18 months of extensive restoration of the gardens and mansion house, with Delport along with fellow chef Ruan Pretorius spending eight months planning the launch, from designing the kitchens to creating the menu and sourcing the ingredients, both from the estate and local farmers.
Among the wines on pour will be those from the South African Benguela Cove range, including a Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, which are available in the UK via Bibendum.
Delport has worked under Streeter at her Somerset West restaurant in Cape Town for several years and has a background in classical French and English cooking. Pretorius is the former head chef of Terroir restaurant in South Africa.
Visitors to Leonardslee can also enjoy afternoon tea for £35, or for £45 with a glass of Benguela Cove Méthode Cap Classique.
Scroll through to view some images of the new restaurant.