This weekend I was invited to a very special supper club as a guest of self-taught superstar chef Gareth Kyle at the exquisite Bradley Gardens…
Once upon a time Bradley Gardens was a go-to destination and popular tea room, but found itself up for sale in 2010. As nature’s clutches took hold, this once-beautiful walled garden, with its Victorian glasshouses and tranquil lake became overgrown and unloved. Tucked away in the Tyne Valley, only 20 minutes from Newcastle city centre, the gardens have been lovingly restored by their new guardians, a local company called Bridgewater Kitchens whose vision has gone above and beyond our expectations.
From the moment you step inside the old stone walls, past the pretty lake with its family of swans and fluffy cygnets, you fall in love. Fans of Beatrix Potter will know exactly what I mean when I say the potting shed and nursery are like a scene stolen from Mr McGregor’s garden; rows of roses, baskets of sunflowers and bouquets of freshly cut flowers sit in full bloom amidst animal sculptures and an assortment of dainty garden ornaments. After a leisurely stroll around the gardens we headed into the beautifully-restored Victorian glasshouses for a gin and tonic (served with fresh cucumber and lime for added zing) to sip in the sunshine, before taking our seats and getting to know our fellow diners.
Supper started on a high with a pea and mint appetiser, before sharing platters of goats cheese, fresh beetroot topped with honey and walnuts were placed before us, along with oatcakes and fresh salmon to nibble on while we chatted. I talked (too much) about my blog, but it wasn’t long before we were all well acquainted and eagerly awaited our main course.
Generous helpings of crispy pork crackling were passed around the table as we tucked into pork belly served with jersey royals, black pudding, pickled carrot and fresh greens. The food was faultless. The pork fell to pieces in your mouth, while the seasonal vegetables, though simple, suited the mood and the sunny weather perfectly.
After a short break in which we popped into Bridgewater’s onsite home and lifestyle store, dessert was served. Dessert was a heavenly medley of heart-shaped English strawberries bathed in a delicate vanilla custard and topped with homemade shortbread, mini black pepper meringue kisses and edible flowers.
In fact it was so delicious, I had three helpings.
As if the evening couldn’t have been any more perfect, a little birdie brought me an extra helping of dessert because he knew how much I liked Eton Mess!
The evening was utterly perfect – I struggle to put into words how beautiful Bradley Gardens is – you absolutely have to go for a cup of tea and a teacake on a sunny afternoon and treat yourself to something pretty in the potting shed. Be sure to look out for the delightful little dormouse who cheekily darts back and forth across the stepping stone path too!