Ruth Leigh and Oliver Brown has today announce the opening of Updown, a restaurant and rooms set in a former farm near Deal, Kent, this July.
Over the last few years, the couple have been carefully restoring the farmhouse and grounds to house seven rooms including two cottages.
Whilst works have been taking place, Ruth and Oli used the space to host a successful series of supper clubs, inviting some of the UK’s best chefs such as Anna Tobias, Will Bowlby, Rowley Leigh and Alex Jackson to cook one-off long table dinners.
The success of these further cemented the couple’s dream to make Updown a permanent fixture and a home to share their seasonal menus and welcoming hospitality.
Set within seven and a half acres of rolling Kent countryside, and just fifteen minutes from the popular coastal town of Deal, the 17th century grade II listed farmhouse, hidden within its own magical woodland and mature wildflower gardens, has been conscientiously restored to celebrate its working history and rural setting.
Within the main house, guests can stay in four beautifully appointed rooms, all overlooking the grounds. Each room has been thoughtfully designed to reflect and celebrate the farm’s unique character.
Alongside the rooms in the main house, Ruth and Oli have transformed the farm’s outbuildings including its stables to house three new guest rooms. Through a wrought iron gate, guests enter Updown’s hidden garden, which forms a quad between house, barn and pergola, housing the outdoor dining area.
The pergola is shaded by hanging vines and wisteria and surrounded by herbs, olives and lavenders, with open fires to keep guests warm as the sun sets. The central seating area provides a perfect space for cocktails or a glass of wine overlooking the central lawn and farmhouse. On one side of this is the main dining terrace, and on the other the outdoor kitchen where the chefs cook everything to order in an impressive bakers oven, built into the stable wall.
Oli will head up the food at Updown, bringing with him his wealth of experience from founding Brixton’s much-loved Duck Duck Goose, time in Hong Kong running the kitchens of Swire Hotel’s first standalone restaurant, and with Rowley Leigh at Le Café Anglais.
Ruth will lead on all things front of house, having spent many years working alongside Stevie Parle and most recently, Henry Harris.
The couple have created a simple, Italian leaning hyper-seasonal menu using carefully sourced, local ingredients. The concise and equally seasonal drinks menu will feature cocktails made with produce from the garden and local wines sitting side by side with bottles from high quality producers in France and Italy.
Known as the ‘Garden of England’, Kent is a county with a burgeoning food and drink scene and is home to some of the country’s most respected farmers, craftsmen and winemakers. The menu will feature produce from the much loved and nearby The Goods Shed, plus prize winning butcher The Black Pig and fishmonger Jenkins and Son.
Dishes will change along with the seasons and suppliers, but guests can expect dishes such as Raw Sea Bass with Almonds & Cherries and Grilled Lamb Chump with Broad Beans, Artichokes & Bagna Cauda.
Of the opening Oli said, “Updown Farm is a dream come true for Ruth and I. After the last few years working on the house, and hosting some of our favourite chefs and good friends at the farm, we can’t wait to have people here to stay, and get completely immersed in life here.
'Updown is a celebration of what the area has to offer - from some of the most beautiful fruit and veg from our neighbouring farms to wines from local vineyards. We have big plans for the Updown and hope to restore more of it in months to come - watch this space!”