Pennethorne's Cafe Bar | Our Man On The Ground
The inspiration for the Pennethorne’s Cafe Bar and its menu has come from Sir James Pennethorne, the 19th century English architect who fittingly designed the New Wing in Somerset where the restaurant is located.
Sir James travelled across Europe and visited Paris, Parma, Bologna, Rome and other Italian cities such as Florence and Genoa on his Grand Tour, as it was called. Head Chef Richard Robinson has therefore created dishes that embody the best of French and Italian cuisine with a modern British twist.
Open for breakfast from 8:00am each weekday morning, you can enjoy freshly baked specialist breads including Banana Bread and Bacon Brioche as well as pastries from the in-house bakery. The all-day small plates are ideal for sharing, along with some of the finest artisan coffees from the brew bar as well as craft beers and a great selection of French Italian and English wines. Each month a new coffee is featured so you can experience different flavours from around the world.
At lunchtime Pennethorne’s offers a selection of salads, sandwiches and tempting desserts, but come the evening the restaurant with its two rooms and black walls adorned with pictures, takes on a rather different and cosy persona.
The evening menu offers a choice of toast, salads, meats, cheeses and puddings. But the best way to enjoy Pennethorne’s is by ordering platters to share. When we were there we had a choice of delicious fig and apricot, bacon brioche and walnut and raisin home baked bread. We possibly ordered a little too much as we were not too sure how big the portions are (they are large), but our friendly waitress tried to guide us as we liked the sound of a toasted Watercress and soft egg pancetta, some potted sardines, potted spicy aubergine and a wonderful cold meat platter made up with Mortadella, Iberico Ham, Salicision Sec and Air Dried Yorkshire Lamb. You can order the meats individually, if you have some particular favourites or as a mixed selection on a platter as we did. We also liked the sound of the cheeses they had on offer and had a selection of Monte Enebro, Gorgonzola, Berkswell and Vacherin to share of course.
Sadly they had run out of puddings by the time we came to ordering ours, as I really fancied the French Apple Tart, but the chef, sensing our disappointment very kindly rustled us up a delicious plate of natural yoghurt, homemade granola and mixed berries, which to be honest, was far healthier than the puddings and a really nice touch that we really appreciated.
Whilst the selection of wines is fairly limited, what they did have looked good with offerings from France, Italy and Spain, all available by the glass, carafe and bottle and reasonably priced. We actually fancied one (or two) of their craft beers, which come from Crate Brewery – Hackney Wicks. I can most certainly recommend giving them a try as they are “massively drinkable” as they quite rightly say on the menu!
All in all Pennethorne’s is a fun place to stop by for a casual coffee, snack or something a little more substantial. The smell of freshly baked bread will make you want to come back time and time again.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground