City Spotlight: a day of dining in Winchester
When planning a day trip, food is always at the forefront of our minds. So when Connie, the wonderful person behind food and travel blog Connie Consumes, planned a trip to Winchester, it involved a whole day of dining.
If you’re interested in quiet riverside walks, weekend farmers’ markets and easily smitten by the grandeur of a classic cathedral, then Winchester may just be for you!
Breakfast at Forte Kitchen
78 Parchment St, Winchester SO23 8AT
It’s worth getting an early train from London so you can have breakfast at Forte Kitchen. This light and airy café found at the top of a narrow staircase, in a skinny little building at the end of a side street, had me smitten at first sight. We ordered hot chocolates, pancakes, and baked eggs in beans, which were hot and hearty.
The dining room was full to the brim with families, couples, and friends at breakfast time. It’s fantastic to see an independent café get so much support from the local community – the people of Winchester clearly know a good thing when they taste it! Speaking of which… after breakfast, take the short walk down to High Street and wander through the Winchester Farmers’ Market.
Lunch at The Black Rat
88 Chesil St, Winchester SO23 0HX
From the High Street, we found our way to the ruins of Wolvesey Castle, once a grand home to the Bishops of Winchester, and then strolled along the riverside which conveniently led us to our lunch spot, The Black Rat. What drew us to this Michelin starred restaurant was their ethos of using wild and forgotten ingredients; they source their produce locally, they even grow their own or forage for it.
If gin is your thing, then an aperitif from their extensive selection is a must. We dined on three courses ranging from game terrines to ballotines of rabbit to mugworth parfaits. I liked how effortlessly the unusual ingredients graced the plate. I think the secret is to make these ingredients approachable and mainstream again to encourage more restaurants to use them. The tastiness of the food and the incredible value for money at lunch made it worth the visit.
Dinner at Chesil Rectory
1 Chesil St, Winchester SO23 0HU
The charming 600 year old grade II listed Medieval house, which is now Chesil Rectory, sure gave The Black Rat a run for its historical money. The restaurant oozes warmth, and the food oozes comfort.
Even the canapes were generous, comforting mouthfuls; had we known, we might have passed on the starters or maybe just shared, because my Isle of Wight tomatoes with bocconcini filled me with a sense of joy with each bite. The mains of middle white pork loin and duck were both well cooked and served alongside small mountains of vegetables and, to my delight, plenty of sauce – my only qualm about the food was that they were a touch heavy handed with the salt pot.
So make a move…
Trains from London Waterloo take just over an hour and cost around £35 when booked in advance.
Winchester Farmers’ Market is the largest in the UK with 95 stalls, and takes place on the second and final Sunday of each month.
Winchester Cathedral is open everyday, admission is £8 for adults, which gives you access to the Cathedral, Treasury and crypt.
Visit Connie’s blog to read her full review and follow along on her adventures!