Acclaimed chef Lee Westcott has worked in some of the world’s best kitchens—spending four years with Tom Aikens before overseeing two of Jason Atherton‘s Hong Kong establishments; staging at Noma and Per Se; and founding the lauded Typing Room at Town Hall Hotel, London. Shunning the city life, Lee’s latest venture sees him setting up shop at a historic agricultural family farm out in the country.
Set on the Herefordshire-Worcestershire border, Pensons is a collaboration between Westcott and Peta Darnley (whose family own the rural estate)—a large open dining space formin g a 46-cover restaurant on the beautiful Netherwood Estate; offering an à la carte and tasting menu with produce from its grounds and local suppliers. Inspired by the variety and quality of local seasonal ingredients, dishes—that will change on a regular basis—are colourful and rousing.
Think mackerel, beetroot, smoked yoghurt and horseradish for starters; a Herefordshire Herdwick lamb, turnip, potato and onion main course; and on to a Neal’s Yard cheese selection with buckwheat and damson for dessert. At Pensons, both Westcott and the Netherwood Estate kitchen garden teams will work together to produce as much of their own produce as possible, with cold-pressed rapeseed oil, honey, meat, game, apple juice, cider, and fruit and vegetables from the off. “Working with the seasons has always been of huge importance to how I approach my menus,” the chef says, “and working alongside the team of gardeners, farmers and the gamekeepers on the Estate will be very beneficial in continuing this approach. The inspiration for us all is the countryside around the restaurant.”
Housed in farm buildings that were derelict for more than 50 years, Pensons has been restored by Communion Design, who preserved original features and re-used as many of the old materials as possible. An open kitchen is located just of the main dining area and—as the restaurant is set around a courtyard—guests can enjoy a pre- or post-dinner tipple in a space that also serves for larger events.
With decor minimal, the natural beauty of the building shining through, textures and colours of wood, brick, and stone are complemented by a palette of slate blue, soft grey, and ecru. Serving as the perfect spot for Lee’s modern and imaginative yet unpretentious cooking to shine, Pensons is sure to lure others out of the city and into the magical Herefordshire countryside.