Farmyard, St Leonards (Hastings)
Betina Piqueras-Fiszman and Charles Spence wrote a book about the perfect meal. Their thesis was that occasionally you have a meal that is so good that it transcends the normal restaurant experience and becomes almost perfect. But the point of his book was that such a meal isn’t just about what is on the plate and in the glass: it is the sum total of the whole experience, and the things around the food can make a huge difference. Lunching at Farmyard in the gap between Christmas and New Year was such an experience for me – it’s hard to see how it could be bettered.
Farmyard is a natural wine shop and restaurant (focusing on local produce) just a stone’s throw from the station at St Leonards Warrior Square, the last stop before Hastings (it’s very walkable from there, too). It is small and perfectly formed: while there’s a wine list, the bottles are all on the shelves in the restaurant too, and some of the wines on the shelves might not have made it onto the list (as I found out). The wine selection is really impressive, well curated with wines from a number of sources, representing the best in the natural/authentic scene. I found lots of bottles calling to me. And the pricing is fantastic. There’s a lot of joy to be had here for around £50 a bottle, with wines that would be £80+ in most London spots.
The food is really, really good. We ordered the vegetarian dishes on the menu, and they were all beautifully done, with lovely flavours and intelligent combinations of ingredients, skilfully combined.
To drink, two special bottles. First, the Versante Nord 2019 from Eduardo Tores Acosta. This was on the shelf but not on the list. It turns out it was a wine for sister restaurant Boatyard (just down the road, and specialising in seafood), but they sold it to us anyway for £52 ( a really good price).
And then I spotted four bottles of Ganevat on a top shelf. Not on the list, either. They’d just been delivered, and hadn’t been priced yet. I know how hard it is to get Ganevat these days, and Farmyard could well have marked these wines up considerably and still sold them. To get them, you have to buy them as part of mixed cases from the UK agent, and their allocation was thus one each of four cuvées. I asked whether we could buy one, and how much it would be. To their credit, Farmyard said yes (I chose the 18 Chamois), found out the price (I won’t share because it will incite jealousy) and we were thrilled. We’d have been thrilled to have any one of many other great wines on their list, but this was quite lovely of them.
We ate well, drank well, and came away happy. I’m so glad that my trainline connects me directly with St Leonards Warrior Square.
An older review from August 2021
The Farmyard restaurant and wine bar is just the sort of place I like to eat. It’s in Saint Leonards, the swankier bit (just) of Hastings, and it’s small and perfectly formed.
There’s no fussiness here: it’s all about the food, and – in particular – the wine. The list is excellent, and all the bottles are on display on shelves on the walls, as this also doubles up as a bottle shop. It’s a mostly natural list, although I’d describe some of the wines more as authentic than strictly natural. Lots to choose from, prices starting at c £30, with a lot of wines in mid-£40s to mid-£50s. This is where the fun is: lots of really great wines, well chosen, with a nice balance to the list. Indigo and Les Caves feature strongly as suppliers.
The decor is spot on for this sort of place. There aren’t many covers and the reservations (essential, it’s popular) are well staggered so the kitchen (single chef plus KP) isn’t overwhelmed, meaning the pace of the meal was just right.
Food was excellent, and quite creative. We ate well and drank very well too, with two contrasting wines. Highly recommended.