Rich’s Cider Press Restaurant, Somerset
While out and about this week looking at land, we stumbled on a village on the Somerset levels, Watchfield, home to one of the regions oldest cider makers.
Over 50 years ago Gordon Rich created Rich’s Cider Press, using locally harvested Somerset apples in a traditional cider press, using the rack and cloth method. Although times have moved on, the process remains largely the same using traditional presses and old oak vats, and the business remains a family-run enterprise.
There’s a small, free to visit, cider museum to wander around where you will find some vintage farm machinery and huge cider vat, along with an excellent cider shop selling all the products made at the farm, including non-alcoholic traditional apple juice, as well as a huge range of gifts and local produce. There is free cider tasting too!
The Farm is entirely disabled friendly with access to all public areas, including toilets, the museum and shop as well as the restaurant all having easy access. There is plenty of parking in the yard and the farm is located very conveniently just 2 miles off Junction 22 of the M5, with very good signage from the A38 making it easy to find.
When we arrived, the smell of the hazy apples immediately filled the air and it’s nice to wander around in what feels like a scene from Darling Buds of May, despite the famous TV series staring David Jason and Catherine Zeta-Jones being set in the Kent countryside not in Somerset! There’s an original, and beautifully restored Bedford truck which has been in the Rich family since 1939 which sets the scene of tradition perfectly.
The West Country is considered to be the home of traditional scrumpy cider production with many songs written about it, in particular by The Wurzel’s in several well known classics. It has been a staple drink for over 2,000 years in Britain, and was drank by the Romans. In the 1870’s cider production in the UK was almost 15 Million gallons. Farm labourers were often given an allowance of cider which was around half a gallon a day, 4 pints! Today cider remains an important part of the region’s and wider UK economy too.
The restaurant is a real find and something we never expected. We were greeted by very friendly staff and despite not having booked, which is recommended as the restaurant is clearly very popular, we were taken to a table. The menu is fairly extensive and includes lots of traditional food including lasagne, ham egg and chips, jacket potatoes, homemade quiche, ploughman’s lunch, poached salmon to name a few, along with Rich’s Farmhouse breakfast which if what we ate is anything to go by is sure to be excellent!
We decided to go for Rich’s Cider Sausages served with roast potatoes and vegetables, using local Pynes Butcher’s ‘Proper Job’ sausages served with sweet cider gravy which immediately hits you as soon as it arrives at the table – absolutely delicious.
Along with Farmhouse roast beef which was amongst the most tender we can remember anywhere and was served with lovely roast potatoes, superb Yorkshire pudding, veg and delicious gravy.
The Farmhouse roast is available as a small (£4.95) and large (£7.95) both of which represent excellent value in our opinion. The restaurant is fully licensed too so you can enjoy some cider or perhaps a local ale with your lunch of you fancy it.
Overall, the friendliness, cleanliness, and quality of food and drink at Rich’s Cider Press Restaurant gives it Five Forks, however they don’t offer wifi and whilst this may not affect everyone, it does affect you if you’re stopping for a working lunch so based on our experience for our readers, we give Rich’s Cider Press Restaurant Four Forks based on today’s review.
Despite the lack of wifi we will revisit this excellent little find on the Somerset levels and perhaps now and again it’s nice for somewhere to remain traditional and not be filled with people on tablets and laptops!
What we ate and drank:
One Rich’s Cider Sausages
One Farmhouse Roast
1 Still Mineral Water
1 White Americano
Nr Burnham On Sea
Telephone: 01278 794573 Website: richscider.co.uk Restaurant Opening times: 8.30am to 5pm daily.
Fear On Food Rating: 4 Forks