To anyone who is familiar with the surrounding landscape of Exeter, it is hard to miss Haldon Hill. A long treelined geographical slug, that helps create a mild microclimate for us city dwellers, repels the harsh winds and nasty rains that slide off Dartmoor’s slippery heather padded shoulders.
Tucked up in it’s shadow is Brickhouse Vineyard, a stone’s throw from Starcross, overlooking the estuary and the rolling greenery of the Devon hills, this vineyard is run by Joanna and Matt where they live with their children. How cool would it be to be brought up on a Vineyard?
Escaping the wilds of London, they followed their dream in 2015 and bought a Grade II listed house which included an 18th century Round House. Three years later, the vines are producing up to 1000 bottles of wine a year and the Round House is open for events, such as this, which we found ourselves travelling to on a dark February night.
We were joined by fellow Exeter blogger Tara of ‘Tara’s Busy Kitchen’ and partner Steve. I was chuffed to be giving them a lift along tonight; this was my first time to Brickhouse Vineyard and the Sat Nav got us there bang on location. Up a small drive next to a field of donkeys, and a tight bend to the right and the first thing we see is The Round House, like a lighthouse beaming light into the cold night.
This was the first Pop-up dining event that Brickhouse has hosted, and they couldn’t have picked a better chef. Mike Welsh, once at the helm of the food offering of the Seven Stars in Kennford, now runs an award-winning wedding catering business with his wife Leanne. Mike had created a valentine’s themed menu for guests tonight, with a matched wine flight by Joanna. These local wines really showed off some of the excellent wines that we make in Devon, including their very own award-winning Sauvignon Blanc.
The menu for tonight:
Leek & Potato Soup with Parmasan Foam and Onion Crumb
Garden Vegetable Salad with Tomato Fondue, Smoked Cheddar and Crispy Lamb Bon Bon
Guinea Fowl Duo, Breast and Pressed Leg, Pomme Fondant, Wild Mushroom, Tarragon Puree, Pancetta, Jus
Chocolate and Raspberry
I popped into the kitchen area to see Mike before the service started. Everything prepped and ready to go.
Creating good food in a restaurant is something that all chefs aspire to. Consistent, delicious food that makes punters come back and grow your reputation is ultimate, what all chefs would love. Mike has taken the excellent food he was creating at the Seven Stars on the road.
Now catering for outside events and weddings, being able to create fine food in anywhere there is space, is a talent and then some. This was rewarded recently with Mike’s company winning South West Wedding Caterer of the Year 2018!
The highlights for the event for me were the Lamb Bon Bons as part of the starter. These little meaty morsels were like pockets of flavour which contrasted really well with the lovely salad that they sat on.
The Guinea Fowl was very moist, perched and decorated in edible flowers and the wild mushrooms.
Then there was dessert.
An explosion of chocolate, raspberry and a whole chorus of popping candy and chocolate soil that melted and oozed together on the slate under the cool redness of the sorbet.
And it goes without saying that my favourite wine of the evening was Brickhouse’s very own Sauvignon.
Brickhouse Vineyard has firmly planted themselves in the hearts of the local foodie scene. Easy to drive to, beautiful surroundings make this an ideal place for a wedding, corporate event or even something wine related. Hoping that they have more pop-up events in the future and that Mike and his team will be revisiting too!