One-time modernist John Campbell proves that simple food can be sensational
John Campbell’s Michelin-starred restaurant and cookery school is located less than a mile from the Vineyard at Stockcross, the restaurant at which the chef acquired two Michelin stars and made his name in the noughties. The food he offers at The Woodspeen is simpler than the cerebral, scientifically minded cuisine he once served, but the dishes are no less effective.
Set behind a restored 19th century farmhouse just outside Newbury, The Woodspeen opened in 2014 and occupies a converted barn with a thatched roof and a large, rectangular skylight. The modern interior is light and airy, with the open-plan dining room surrounded by full-length sliding windows looking out on a grand view of the west Berkshire countryside. The furnishings have a smooth, Scandi vibe that’s complemented by cool colouring and polished concrete floors.
The menu is focused on seasonality, with many of the ingredients harvested from vegetable plots on the land. A weekday ‘micro-seasonal market menu’, which is offered alongside à la carte, is inspired directly by what’s growing in the garden and can include a starter of garlic lentils with watercress sauce, seafood brandade and pickled fennel; and a main of pan-fried sea bream with fennel, pickled shallots, mussels and seaweed broth.
Plenty of attention to detail goes into Campbell’s food, but The Woodspeen is focused on the domestic as much as the professional. Campbell’s on-site cookery school gives him the opportunity to develop and motivate others and offers a range of regular and seasonal masterclasses, ensuring the chef’s elegantly rustic brand of cooking never goes out of fashion.