Grace & Savour at Hampton Manor is a new immersive walled garden dining experience. Katy Edgington finds out more from David & Anette Taylor
Hampton Manor Estate’s eagerly anticipated third destination restaurant, Grace & Savour, finally opened its doors on 25 February. Led by husband and wife team Head Chef David Taylor and House Manager Anette Taylor, we spoke to the couple about what to expect from the new walled garden restaurant, cookery school and luxury accommodation.
After spending the last year visiting farms, meeting craftspeople, potters, fishermen, and fine-tuning the experience, the pair were excited for the opening and the chance to share and develop that experience further.
David started at 16 years old at a little bistro called Pierre Victoire, before moving to study Culinary Arts Management at University College Birmingham. He landed a second-year placement at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze under Jason Atherton. Working brutally long hours in his first Michelin starred kitchen taught him a lot, and at the end of the placement Jason connected David with Glynn Purnell of Purnell’s in Birmingham, where he headed next.
“Glynn really nurtured my confidence, taught me to believe in myself as a cook (which I struggled with), and taught me the importance of always improving my craft. I was there for seven years, five as sous chef. I loved and always will love my time being a part of the Purnell’s family. Glynn built the foundation of how I cook and gave me the confidence to step out and go abroad to cook.”
David went on to complete stages at Grace in Chicago, Momofuku KO and Atera in New York, and Relae in Copenhagen before a job opportunity came up at Maaemo in Oslo. During his time there the restaurant won three Michelin stars. He was Head Chef at the five star Thief Hotel on Oslo’s harbourfront for three years, but with a hunger to get back into restaurant cooking, David called James (Hill, one of the directors at Hampton Manor) who made him and Anette an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Anette, by contrast, came quite late into hospitality. With a degree in sign language, she worked as an interpreter for many years before going into project and leadership roles in organisations from the Salvation Army to one of the biggest music festivals in Norway.
“It’s not exactly your typical way into hospitality, but at the same time I would say that it is what has shaped my heart for it,” she says. “For me, hospitality is all about people. To make people feel seen, that there is room for them, that they belong. A guest’s time is precious, and for a night they will be trusting us with that time, and nothing is more exciting than making those moments special.”
Sustainability at heart
Grace & Savour was the couple’s dream scenario: a purpose-built small restaurant with rooms where they’re able to put extra effort into the finer details.
“Sustainability has always been in our hearts, so to create something that not only looked inwards but outwards too is really special,” adds David. “James and Dr Sally Bell, Hampton Manor’s directors, gave me an insight into how broken our supply chains are and as we delved deeper it became so much more than just a restaurant; it’s an opportunity to help make things better than the way we found them.”
The restaurant and development kitchen with five adjoining garden bedrooms are built into the very walls of the historic Victorian Walled Garden on the 45-acre family-run West Midlands estate, providing guests an opportunity to relax and reconnect with nature.
Overnight guests arrive at 3pm for a garden tour and menu introduction with David. Before dinner, estate maps and wellies are to hand for those wanting to explore, or you’re welcome to relax in your bedroom lounge from where you can glimpse the chefs at work in the open kitchen.
The evening’s 15 course tasting menu celebrates a revolution in growing and farming where the focus is on soil health, biodiversity and sustainability. David constructs the menu season to season, reflecting what’s available at the time of harvest: protein-heavy in the winter and more vegetable and wild flora focused in the spring and summer.
“The broth that currently starts the menu is meant to be warm and inviting after coming in from the cold, whereas in the summer I might start with a bright and refreshing raspberry, yoghurt and rose filled nasturtium flower.”
The best of British produce and heritage
David and Anette have spent the past 12 months seeking out and forging partnerships with like-minded suppliers who are working sensitively in their environments, using a range of practises including re-wilding, diversification, agroforestry, organic principles, and biodynamic farming.
Solely focusing on British organic produce and British heritage, the 15 courses are a journey through various UK farms. Dish by dish, David is trying to tell their stories. Although he won’t always give away every detail for fear of weighing down your evening, if you ask he promises there will always be more stories to tell.
“The pumpkin seed butter in the fish dish, for example, I made because the pumpkin farmer is trying to make a pumpkin seed oil to fry with,” he says. “Pumpkin seed oil is much healthier and an even better frying oil than rapeseed, vegetable or sunflower, which are all highly processed, so supporting him in this task is really important to me.”
Plymouth-based fish supplier Sole of Discretion only use boats 10m or under and support their local fishermen with good pricing, buying them new nets to help lower by-catch, and only taking fish caught in the most sustainable way.
“When I call Sole of Discretion, I order what is best and plentiful and so that means we have a fish dish that’s ever-changing, reflecting the season and the natural unpredictable circle of the sea. We are currently serving it with mussels in pumpkin pickle, that pumpkin butter and a mussel cream sauce.”
Paviland’s Farm on the Gower Peninsula is a 2,000 acre farm which is attempting to go fully regenerative. Their Welsh Black cattle graze on over 300 different varieties of wild plants and herbs, giving the beef a wonderful deep flavour and tenderness.
“We are also working with Ram Hall Farm where they make Berkswell Cheese,” David adds. “The family are fifth generation cheesemakers, pig farmers and crop growers. The jump to regenerative is a big risk for them, but we are trying to take what we can to support them in their journey. Ram Hall were previously using their whey to water their plants, which is great, but we now buy it from them for our caramelised whey dish and it’s delicious!”
The Walled Garden itself produces an acre of food using organic principles. The growing programme is overseen by Dr Sally Bell, a specialist in lifestyle medicine. As well as being part of the GRFFN Project (Growing Real Food for Nutrition), a UK-wide initiative that looks at how growing methods affect nutrient density, the garden is a playground for the kitchen team to test what they learn from other growers. The aim is for 50% self sufficiency as they still want to support local producers. Soft fruits will be a focus.
“We have plans for a beautiful timber fruit cage,” David shares. “Berries are often heavily sprayed with chemicals and they never travel well. They’re often picked under-ripe to make sure they survive the back of a bouncing lorry, but this heavily impacts quality and flavour. Ripe soft fruit tastes completely different picked in the late afternoon compared to first thing in the morning, and so picking time is everything. I’m really looking forward to what we’ll create from these delicious berries.”
The full Grace & Savour experience
Each of Grace & Savour’s five beautifully designed garden suites looks out across the garden to the kitchen. Decorated in a muted palette of clay, mud, and earth tones, each has their own luxurious en-suite bathroom and is bathed in natural light from the floor to ceiling windows. At the heart of the rooms is a bespoke bath time ritual that celebrates the scent of the garden, designed by King’s Heath organic skincare brand, Harvest.
Although a small number of tables are available to non-residents for dinner Wednesday to Saturday, Anette heartily recommends that guests book the full experience and stay overnight in one of the luxurious garden suites.
“It is something special to allow yourself to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life: to just immerse yourself in the beauty of our garden, the tranquillity you will find in our bath time ritual, and to have the time with your loved one to have those conversations that go a bit deeper than the ones over the dinner table at home with the kids. But to be fair, it can also be summed up in one word: bathtubs. Any one of the gorgeous handmade concrete bathtubs in five different colours from Warrington + Rose is worth a stay on its own.”
After breakfast the following morning, the cookery experience in the test kitchen invites guests to learn the stories of the farmers and the creation of the garden through a light-hearted, fun exploration of how to work with nature, culminating in a garden-inspired lunch that each guest plays their part in preparing.
“The test kitchen will be all about connecting guests with the produce and where it comes from, overlooking our walled garden in a laid back atmosphere,” Anette adds.
“We will change the classes regularly to reflect the season, so it could be all about hand dived scallops where we will show guests how to open them, go over some simple preparations and taste them, or it could be a table full of different foraged items and we will create a selection of infusions for them. It’s to give guests the opportunity to really get under the skin of Grace & Savour.”
Anette is hoping guests will feel ‘optimistic and relaxed’ after immersing themselves in this unique environment.
“By optimistic, I mean that you can go away feeling you are on a journey, knowing a little bit more than you did yesterday. Sharing knowledge is something that should be fun and interesting! We often have a very all or nothing mentality when it comes to sustainability but we’re on a journey ourselves, and we’re inviting our guests to join us. Relaxed because it’s impossible not to be when you’re in that garden, experiencing it with someone you love.”
Bookings are open now for dinner (£135pp for the 15 course tasting menu), or for overnight experiences (from £360pp, inclusive of dinner, breakfast, garden room and test kitchen experience). For more information, visit hamptonmanor.com/grace-savour