Six must-visit destinations for food & drink lovers
Here’s how to find some of the best destinations for a real taste of Herefordshire.
Here we really do think of Herefordshire as the land of milk and honey, because the county grows so much fresh food and, would you believe it, drinks, through its farming culture and heritage.
Castle House Hotel
First let’s start with the famous and flavoursome Hereford Beef. Internationally renowned for its supple texture and meatiness, this hardy breed originated right here and it’s where Hereford Cattle Society still has its home. Now bred in over 120 countries worldwide, from Russia to Canada and Australia, South America and South Africa this perfect roasting and grilling meat is served all over the City and County in Hereford and the ‘shire.
Owned by Hereford Cattle farmer David Watkins, Castle House, Hereford City’s beautiful waterside boutique hotel, prides itself on serving this prize of plate beef straight from the fields of their Ballingham Farm along with chips from their own potatoes too. With the hotel’s new garden dining room alongside their casual brasserie, what better way to experience some real food provenance.
A Rule of Tum
If you’re looking for somewhere less formal to dine, you’ll enjoy the more contemporary environment of the trilogy of locations developed by the team of A Rule of Tum. Evolving from a pop-up and event catering business, brothers Ed and Dorian went on to crowd fund the purchase of their destination dining premises tucked away in a side street behind the Green Dragon Hotel. Now with The Burger Shop (for communal bench seating and gourmet burgers), The Yard for outdoor ‘garden’ style meet-ups, and The Bookshop for more refined fayre and their award-winning Sunday Roasts you’ll find locally sourced ingredients whenever possible in each uniquely created dish from the regularly menu.
You’ll notice that Hereford City’s optic of cocktail bars nearly all stock Williams Gin and Chase Vodka. Not afraid to get creative with their arable farm produce, The Chase Distillery lies only a few miles into rural Herefordshire and offers exciting tours and tastings behind the scenes of their artisan spirits, which are all created from the potatoes on the family farm. Even the water comes from their own bore hole. Founded by the Chase family who also originated Tyrrells crisps from their first farm, they started the county’s appetite for artisan spirit production. Even though the company has only just been taken out of its privately owned hands, a tour of the distillery is an unforgettable experience and a fascinating insight into how they get creative with botanicals for their unique flavours.
The Barrels and Wye Valley Brewery
Did you know that Hereford City is known to have the cheapest ‘pint’ in the country? Thanks to local brewers Wye Valley Brewery, their city centre brewery tap, The Barrels in St Owen Street, is a place where you’ll feel really at home and nobody expects you to stand on ceremony. With plenty of outdoor yet covered space as well as the usual bar areas, is an institution of friendliness, banter and, of course, great beer. Again family owned and operated since 1985, raise a glass of Butty Bach to their live music, beer festival and general conviviality that is somehow injected into the brewery’s hoppy nectar. Having outgrown this original site some years ago, the full Wye Valley Brewery plant is located at Stoke Edith in East Herefordshire where you can also experience tours and tastings as well as the brewery shop – you might bump into the Hop Father himself, Vernon, son of the owner Peter Amore.
Hereford Butter Market
With over 100 craft and small-batch cider makers, not to mention the micro-breweries, distilleries and even juice-makers, you’d think Herefordshire was all about the booze; the City even has the UK’s only accredited Cider Museum, on the site of the original Bulmers factory. But you’ll find a whole plethora of delicious foodie purveyors in Hereford City’s Victorian Butter Market right in the centre of High Town, where the weekly Saturday Produce Markets are held. Look out for Peter Cook’s delicious artisan breads there (try a sourdough workshop at his bakery in Bishops Frome and come back laden with your doughy delights) and pastries, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried his cruffins! Nizi’s European breads are so popular they are hard to find if you’re not early, or you can stand guard outside his little St Owen Street shop. Try the ‘crunch with a conscience’ Two Farmers Crisps with your picnic, wrapped in completely compostable packaging and created by two local Herefordshire farmers. Find them in bars and independent stores too.
The Buttermarket is home to two excellent long-established butchers too, lovingly homecuring their own bacon and hams, blending their own sausage recipes and generously proportioned pies. You’ll love the charcuterie stand (though these meats are of course not locally sourced), and the variety of cake and light bite traders. Plus the Buttermarket is often where up and coming foodie restaurant businesses trial their concepts with pop-up stands and keep your eyes out for lots of locally made pickles and preserves, cakes and confectionery, icecreams, fruits and general fine fresh fayre, oh yes and honey!
Talking of trialling concepts, on of the Butter Market’s successes has been the Fodder Zero Waste food top-up stall, where you simply bring your own containers and buy your products without additional packaging and at the exact amount you need. This was generated by the owners of the dedicated Fodder shop in Church Street (the pretty cobbled street in the Independent Quarter of Hereford, just off High Town), in the ethos of their existing and long-established health food store. Catering for wholefoods, allergies and intolerances, health products and special diets, Fodder is a place where you walk in and just want to inhale the goodness from packed the artisan style shelves, while you make all sorts of exciting, guilt-free, foodie ingredients to experiment with.