Have you ever had a meal cooked for you in a garden shed? Actually, a five-course tasting menu preceded by a glass of Gusbourne English sparkling wine – plus snacks and canapés – to be precise? And not cooked on any boring old kitchen stove, but in front of you in a wood-burning oven? Well, dear reader, I have …and it was amazing!
A friend invited me to join her for lunch last weekend at Kubarn in Bourton on the Water. A pop-up restaurant, run by Polish-born current National Chef of the Year Kuba Winkowski, it’s in his garden shed and seats just four people. It was such a brilliant experience – unlike anything I have experienced before, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. You’re probably thinking ‘Bourton on the Water?’ ‘For lunch?’ Yes, it can be done, but it would be far more fun to book a local B&B and make a weekend of it.
Kubarn is a rather magical log cabin, designed by chef Kuba for year-round dining. It has been built in his garden at his home in the Cotswolds. He takes bookings for parties of four on Friday and Saturday evenings but will do other days on request. He creates bespoke tasting menus, using the locally sourced game, fish and foraged ingredients. He makes his own butter, produces ‘to die for’ focaccia using Wagyu beef dripping instead of olive oil, smokes the butter for his Hollandaise sauce (which he whisks up in front of you while you are enjoying the previous course) and produces his own range of charcuterie too.
While enjoying some very acceptable Gusbourne, we were indulged with a veritable feast of different snacks, followed by a selection of meats, all cured by Kuba, and served with the focaccia and the amazing butter. Then we were served a vegetable course with winter truffle and buckwheat, followed by John Dory (cooked in the wood-burning oven on a wooden plank) with the afore-mentioned Hollandaise and purple sprouting broccoli. Next was roe deer, with a little dish of Hunter’s stew (which was a meal in itself) and roast parsnip coated in juniper granola (homemade of course and absolutely fabulous). Reader, this is very serious cooking at an exceptionally high level, in front of your eyes, in a shed, using a wood-burning oven; Kuba is a culinary magician. His food is a clever juxtaposition of the best of English and Polish fare.
A dessert of goat’s curd and frozen bilberries was beautifully light and refreshing, followed by chocolate sticky toffee pudding with lemon curd and clotted cream…OMG, I was in dessert heaven! Coffee was served with almond stuffed prunes, coated in a mixture of cocoa and ground chilli. Wow, what an end to the meal.
A trip to Kubarn with friends would make a truly memorable gastronomic experience – especially when the weather is warmer and you can enjoy a drink on the barn’s veranda.
It ain’t cheap of course, but for the superb quality of food, it is great value plus the fact that you can bring your own wine (no corkage charge). It’s £100 ahead, but worth every penny in my opinion. And I was delighted to learn from Kuba that he will be doing a cookery demonstration at the Surrey Food Festival in Richmond at the end of April too, so I would urge you to go along and meet this maestro in person.