I can remember back in 1978, sitting in my car, listening to the radio and the latest captivating episode of the BBC comedy The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I never missed one of them. A couple of years later, looking for reading material to keep me occupied through a long flight to the USA, I came across the newly published The Restaurant at the End of The Universe by the same author. For over 8 hours on that flight, I annoyed my fellow passengers by laughing out loud as I made my way through the novel and across the Atlantic.
One quote from the book springs to mind and sets the scene for our visit to Lumb Farm, Ripley; “The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question ‘How can we eat?’ the second by the question ‘Why do we eat?’ and the third by the question ‘Where shall we have lunch?”
Lumb Farm is in Marehay, on the southern most part of Ripley. Better known for it’s wedding and conference facilities, it also boasts a busy evening bar trade. Up to the arrival of the new proprietors, at the end of last year, lunchtime had been overlooked. Kendall, part of the new team driving Lumb Farm forward, is determined to change that. She greeted Susan and I when we arrived and invited us to take a look around after we had lunch.
Currently lunch is served in the dining room at Lumb Farm but Kendall has plans to move the venue to the large, glazed potion of the building, the sunroom, on the south side with its views over the countryside.
The light lunch and afternoon tea menu is refined to the point where there is something for everyone but keeping the emphasis on homemade. Susan chose the soup and a sandwich combination for £5.95. The soup, one of the most familiar and comforting of all the winter soups, was a bowl of creamy, homemade leek and potato. It was silky, full of flavour and finished with a swirl of cream. There was a choice of sandwiches to accompany the soup; either cheese, ham or tuna. Susan selected the generously filled cheese with tomato.
The rest of this small but beautifully formed menu consisted of jacket potato with a variety of toppings – £5.50, a homemade cottage pie served with seasonal vegetable and gravy – £6.25 and 2 pies: steak, and the one I chose, chicken, leek and Stilton. Both of these are served with handcut chips and garden peas – £6.25. It arrived with a small basket of chips and a pot of hot gravy. The shortcrust pastry was thin but held the contents together. A strong cheese like Stilton can overwhelm a dish but this was beautifully balanced. The delicate taste of the leeks, the firm chicken pieces and the creamy sauce all came together to make a delicious filled pie.
For our puddings we went in different directions. Susan opted for a slice of moist carrot cake with a thick American style frosting plus a pot of freshly brewed tea. I went for the homemade fruit crumble with ‘proper’ custard; tasty, hot and the definition of comfort food.
Afternoon teas are also available and I understand that they are served on tiered cake stands. Just the thing to have when you meet up with an old friend and want to relax and talk.
Far too often we ‘grab’ lunch: something in a cardboard triangle or sitting in the sparsely furnished annex to some mega-shed we’ve just shopped in. Instead, make a little time for yourself. Take a short drive to the south side of Ripley or a minute’s detour at the end of your walk down the Ripley Greenway and relax in comfortable surroundings with a freshly brewed pot of tea and a ‘proper’ light lunch.