Restaurant Interlude is a new restaurant destination at Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens - the historic 200 acre estate, with Grade I Listed gardens, near Horsham in West Sussex. The restaurant is open for dinner from Wednesday to Saturday weekly, with just ten tables. “Interlude connects lovers of fine dining with the very spirit of Leonardslee, the finest woodland gardens in England, carefully curated for over 200 years,” says owner Penny Streeter OBE. “Every dish in each seasonal, multi-course tasting menu is designed to a hunter-gatherer farmer concept of food that’s foraged, cultivated and raised on the estate or close by. It is savoured and enjoyed as an intimate dining experience, a small, exclusive dinner party within the estate’s Italianate mansion house.”
The hospitality entrepreneur, owner of vineyards in the UK and South Africa, bought the Leonardslee estate in 2017. She has opened the restaurant after 18 months’ intensive restoration of the gardens and Grade II-listed mansion house. The gardens will open in early 2019. Diners have a choice of two tasting menus and can feast on the multiple courses that include: estate rabbit, winter purslane, hogweed cider and charcoal; also fallow deer with local braai and sour raspberry; and oyster, foraged greens and juniper.
Penny brought Executive Chef Jean Delport from his native South Africa eight months ago to plan and prepare for the launch - from recruiting his team, which includes Chef Ruan Pretorius, to designing new kitchens, creating original tasting menus and sourcing the finest ingredients from the estate and selected local farmers. Jean has particular experience from South Africa of how to complement extraordinary tasting menus with fine wines. Guests at Interlude can enjoy a selection of wines from the owner’s vineyard at Benguela Cove, Hermanus in South Africa. In Sussex, Penny Streeter has planted 40 acres of vineyards at Leonardslee and at a second site, three miles away at Mannings Heath, where she has created the UK’s first golf and wine estate.
Guests arriving at the mansion house, built in 1855, are greeted in the grand hallway with music from a self-playing piano and drinks in the bar. They are then seated together at around 7pm in the restaurant, enjoying views across acres of gardens in the steep valley below, and east and south across to the South Downs.