I’ve long been obsessed with kitchen tables. I love what they represent, I love the coffee stains and the crumbs of toast, and the way that a kitchen table can morph into a different being at different stages of the day, or week, or time of year. Just imagine the stories they could tell with the sights they’ve seen, the conversations they’ve hosted, the meals they’ve been there for.
The Kitchen Table at Harnett Holder & Co is exactly as it says on the tin. A table in the kitchen. It’s not a show kitchen or a specially partitioned part of the kitchen where the chef talks you through a bespoke menu away from the heat of the ‘real work’.
Nope, this is a beautiful wooden kitchen table next to a stunning French dresser, very much in the main kitchen where food for the entire restaurant is cooked. To enter, you slide past the coffee station and waiters polishing glasses, and you see everything.
Yet if you’re expecting screaming egos and terrified calls of ‘Yes Chef’ from frazzled looking chefs and weary waiting staff, you’ll be sorely disappointed. This is more like being in some kind of serene, yet utterly gripping and entirely immersive piece of art.
I was invited to lunch at the table to celebrate 10 years of Hartnett Holder & Co. We were led through to the table to find signed menus promising some of the restaurant’s star dishes – many of which have been served there for close to a decade.
There’s natural light everywhere and the views outside are of greenery and the grounds of the internationally renowned Lime Wood hotel where the restaurant is set. It’s not just the guests at this exclusive private table who are bathed in light, the entire kitchen sees it too. This is not a workplace that is sunk into an underground basement with artificially lit stations and zero clue as to what time of day it is – as such, chefs and waiters look happy and healthy with many of them having been a part of the team since the restaurant opened.
The soundscape is what struck me the most. Not only contradictory to what I’d expected, it’s almost sing-song-like in its tranquility. There’s the gentle whisking, a spoon tapped against a copper pan, an oven door opening and closing, the call of an order. Occasionally leaders of this ship Luke Holder and Angela Hartnett respectfully convey a request and a chorus of voices cheerily confirm and approve it. It’s utterly harmonious (I mean, I’m sure there are moments – but overall, it’s a happy place) .
The really great news is that this kitchen table is going nowhere – my guess is it’ll be present for many more decades to come. In fact it awaits you, and a group of fellow foodies (it can seat up to 8 people). You can book the table for special events, celebration dinners or just because you fancy eating an amazing meal and watching magic unfold.
The Head Chef will create a special menu designed using the best local produce, sourced that day (when we visited we got the first of the asparagus season – heaven). Dinner here is offered on a bespoke menu from £120 per head and wine pairing is available from £95 per head.
To book, simply call the Events Team on 02380 287177 or email email@example.com to discuss your ideas