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Fordingbridge Farm Shop opens new courtyard bar

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A NEW courtyard bar has opened at Fordingbridge Farm Shop, with plans afoot for an expanded menu and open-fire “theatrical” cooking by guest chefs.

Father-and-son team Gerry Mackenzie and Laurie Mackenzie-Platt opened the shop in January after buying two butchers stores in Fordingbridge and Downton. They are proud to say all their meat is sourced from local farmers in the New Forest and Wiltshire.

The new bar, which utilises the large on-site courtyard, currently serves coffee, draft beer and cider, and wine, with food options ranging from ploughman’s and pies baked in the farm shop to salads and charcuterie.

Gerry Mackenzie and Laurie Mackenzie-Platt
Gerry Mackenzie and Laurie Mackenzie-Platt

However, the pair have big ambitions for the site, and with ovens on order and a head chef due to start any day, the food offering will become much more varied.

As well as the indoor space with its 32 covers, a weather-proof, heated pergola is soon to be installed, ensuring customers can enjoy al-fresco dining all year round.

“We wanted to play to our strengths, so the obvious focus for our upcoming menu was meat,” said Gerry, a former corporate banker, violin maker and amateur sausage maker. “We will be offering a rotating seasonal menu depending on what we have in at that time.

“Over the next few weeks we will also be hosting grill nights featuring Moroccan burgers, Dexter steaks and porchetta – an Italian roast pork recipe which looks and tastes spectacular.”

“And we want to host open-fire cooking with guest chefs,” continued Laurie, a father-of-one who formerly worked in property development.

“They will use our meat so we can ensure the quality, and they use their own recipes and create the spectacle with asado-style cooking.

“These events would be held once or twice a month and be ticketed.”

Gerry and Laurie work with around half a dozen farmers, including Oliver Cutts at Godshill, Will Dickson at Downton and Hugo Mann in Salisbury, who keeps a herd of Dexters – the smallest British breed of cattle.

“Dexters are not a commercial breed,” said Gerry. “They are slower growing, and while they’re smaller and lighter they eat just as much.

“But the taste of their meat is superior, and we have customers asking when we will next be getting it in.

“We know our customers want transparency, so we have a board up in the shop’s butchers which details the cuts of meat, the breeds and the names of the farmers.

The new courtyard bar
The new courtyard bar

“What we have realised when it comes to engaging our customers is the importance of storytelling – yes, they want to support local farmers, but they also want to know the name of the farmer, the number of generations the farm has been in the family.

“Most of the farmers we buy from are arable farmers who are in love with a particular breed, so their husbandry is second to none – they look after their animals really well.

“And when they go to slaughter – and we do have to talk about that part – they go to a small family-run abattoir in Sixpenny Handley run by John Clarke.

“It has a low capacity but we know our farmers use that abattoir and that the welfare is good there; plus the animals do not need to travel far.”

Around 800 pies and sausage rolls are baked and sold at the shop every week, along with bread and cakes.

Local produce includes Forest Edge Gelato, based in Fordingbridge, chocolate from Beaulieu Chocolate Studio, Fluffets eggs, A Pinch of Salt charcuterie, sparkling wines from Hampshire vineyards including Sway-based Marlings, and fruit and vegetables grown locally.

The shop also houses a milk vending machine so customers can refill their glass bottles, and it stocks a wide selection of cheeses from Dorset and Hampshire

Gerry and Laurie are soon to launch butchery classes at the shop, which has its own temperature controlled dry agers and custom-made, three-quarter-tonne wooden butcher’s block.

The store also offers a free knife-sharpening service, which has proven popular.

For more information, visit fordingbridgefarmshop.co.uk

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