Celebrating Summer - Bar & Kitchen

Celebrating Summer

It’s time to freshen things up for the new season. Three of our favourite chefs share their secrets for the perfect hot-weather menu.

Mark Fice

Mark Fice is head chef at the Church House Inn, a pretty Devonshire country pub known for championing the best of the south west.


James McMahon

James McMahon is head chef at Platform 1864 in Tain, northern Scotland. An old railway station, it’s now a vibrant live music bar and restaurant.


Joshua Jones

The elegant tasting menus at Joshua and Chloe Jones’ Number Eight Restaurant in Bideford showcase the very best of the region’s produce.

It's about fresh choices

Mark: “There’s more variation than ever. But don’t be overwhelmed by it all. Speak to your local growers, they’ll let you know what’s best, when. And make a point of mentioning just how fresh and local your ingredients are.”

Joshua: “Our tasting menus change every month, and in summer there’s so much fruit and vegetables coming through it’s hard not to get creative with salads and lean away from meat a little, towards lighter dishes.”

It’s about new experiences

Mark: “Don’t just think of salt and pepper when you season. Savoury ‘umami’ flavours are really coming into their own. Try ‘dashi’, a stock made from seaweed and mushrooms, or miso pastes to give your dishes a real punch.”

Joshua: “I’ve just started making kimchi and sourdough, and I’ve got some fermented rhubarb on the go…The difference these make to my dishes is immense. People say ‘raw’ rhubarb, are you sure? Then they try it!”

It's about keeping it simple

Mark: “Over-complicated dishes go out the window when you’re serving up to 200 covers a day. It’s faster-paced in the kitchen in the summer months, so rein back on the refinements.”

James: “It’s harder than ever to get staff, so factor in the complexity when you’re thinking of your summer menus. Limit the ingredients, not your imagination. Use fresh summer berries in your mains as well as your desserts. They go great with game dishes, for example.”

Joshua: “A lightly poached fi sh will always feel more ‘summer’ than a hearty roast of meat.”

It's about bringing people together

James: “Summer doesn’t last long in the north of Scotland, so we really go to town. We make sure our outside space is as inviting as it can be, and programme a whole host of parties and themed events where we match the food with it.”

Mark: “People tend to meet and mingle more in the summer. So, we run quiz nights to help raise funds for the village, and support local artists by hosting auctions of their work. It makes for a really lovely, community-spirited evening.”

It's about turning up the colour

Mark: “Heritage fruit and veg not only taste good, but they look amazing on the plate. Golden beetroot, purple carrots, all the various shades of heirloom tomatoes, they’re all trickling through in summer, so don’t miss a chance to add a splash of colour to your dishes,” says Mark, “and don’t forget edible flowers.”

It's about raising a glass

Mark: “We’re still a local pub. So while we welcome tourists, we never forget our regulars and keep a good supply of local ales on tap. We go for lighter IPA-style beers that go well with our menu in the summer.”

James: “Our summer slushy cocktails always go down well. The refreshing mix of slushy ice with a hit of a colourful cocktail feels like summer in a glass. And the most important thing is – it’s a bit of fun too!”

Joshua: “It’s all about vibrant fruit flavours. We do a mango-flavoured vodka served with lime and a fermented strawberry and elderflower syrup for cocktails. They’re simple to make, unique to us, and our customers love them.”

It's about getting outside

Mark: “We crank up our outdoor pizza ovens for fresh breads and pizza and one of our summer highlights is when we do a pig roast. It’s a real nose-to-tail rustic experience.”

James: “Wild fruit grows in abundance here, and all our customers have memories of picking berries to make jam. We add some of that on the menu and remind people of happy childhood summers.”

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