The evening started in the foyer, with a canapé of new season Vale of Evesham asparagus from Produce Warriors who source the best asparagus from a network of local independent growers, served with a hollandaise made with local extra virgin pressed Rapeseed oil produced in nearby Stow on the Wold.
Once guests had acquainted themselves, we moved on into the classically beautiful Orangery Restaurant, overlooking The Duke of Marlborough’s private Italian Garden, once a home for orange trees before becoming a private theatre in past lives.
Our Starter was a Smoked Bibury trout terrine, with horseradish and apple salad. The trout was provided by Bibury Trout Farm, one of Britain’s oldest trout farms, founded in 1902 by naturalist Arthur Severn to stock the local rivers and streams with native brown trout. The Farm now covers 15 acres in the Coln Valley.
For mains, there was a vegetarian option of Windrush goat’s cheese ravioli, with wilted spinach and roast cherry tomatoes in a butter sauce, although I was very happy to receive a stunningly delicious dish of lamb two ways, consisting of Matthew Alden’s lamb cutlet and slow braised breast with rosemary carrots and sourdough crumb.
7th-generation Aldens is the oldest butcher in Oxford, founded in 1793 by Issac Alden. Current owner, Matthew, works closely with The Orangery to provide locally sourced meats such as the evening’s cutlet from Noke Farm on the outskirts of Islip in Oxford.
Windrush is a soft goat’s cheese made by Renee and Richard Loveridge at their farm in Windrush, near Burford. Their fresh cheeses are made in pure, unflavoured variety; Dainty Herb flavoured with fresh herbs, a peppercorn-coated variety and a garlic and crack pepper cheese.
Come dessert time there was almost a fallout at our table, with three of the four of us receiving warm rice pudding, with Blenheim estate rhubarb and ginger crumb, and one in receipt of a chocolate pave, with espresso ice cream and Witney coffee syrup. While the rice pudding was a treat, we all hawk-eyed across the table at the chocolate, which was excellent according to our understandably smug dining companion.
The rhubarb for the rice pudding was supplied by Hilary Wood, the Head Gardener for the Blenheim estate, and grown directly in the Blenheim estate gardens.
Cotswold IPA from Cotswold Brew Co was also served during the event, coming from the lager microbrewery based in Bourton-on-the-Water.
Tickets were open to the public at £49 each and all profits went to supporting Blenheim Palace’s chosen charity, Bridewell Gardens in Oxfordshire, which provides social and therapeutic horticulture in a working garden to adults living in Oxfordshire. Their goal is to help people into jobs or voluntary roles back in the wider community.
Private Hire of The Orangery at Blenheim Palace
The Orangery is also available for private hire, full details here.
Dining at The Orangery at Blenheim Palace
Lunch is served daily from 12.00 – 15.00
Afternoon Tea served:
Monday – Friday 12.00 – 17.00 (last orders at 16.30)
Saturday and Sunday 14.00 – 17.00 (last orders at 16.30)
Full details, including menus, can be found here.
Park and Gardens admission or a valid Annual Pass is required to dine in the Orangery Restaurant.