Beth Dowd samples a new Sunday lunch experience at Vallum Farm
Sunday lunch is a fascinating tradition. Built on the cornerstones of a magnificent roast joint, vegetables of the season and a rich gravy to bring it all together, it’s all pretty straightforward, mostly, which makes a standout Sunday lunch worth shouting about from the nearest rooftop.
The latest meal worthy of such praise lacks a rooftop sturdy enough for standing and shouting, so this page will have to suffice for praising Sunday lunch at the Vallum Tipi.
I’ve long admired the team at Vallum Farm for their loyalty to superb local producers, their love of all things homegrown yards from the kitchen door and, now, for this charming, cosy Tipi, where Sunday lunch and occasional suppers are served.
Tipis have been a thing for a while now. Indeed, a few days before our trip to Vallum, we visited one in Newcastle named after the Roman emperor who built a wall not far from here. But this one at Vallum is special, and rather grand with its huge chandelier suspended above the obligatory central firepit. Long tables are laid out around the fire like wheel spokes, lending each its own intimate feel under the sloped tipi sides.
Its cocktail cabinet – the inspiration for the tipi’s interior designed by the Vallum-based homeware store Jolaru – yields a pair of snowball cocktails, which fit, somehow, with the surroundings and the crisp winter day. The main event, meanwhile, is served to be shared – pink North Acomb Farm beef raised just across the valley is paired with succulent North Acomb pork, crisp, salty crackling and sublime roast potatoes (Vallum’s Vicky Moffitt shared the recipe in Appetite recently – look it up on our website). The home grown vegetables include a forest of kale and broccoli, sweet carrots and hunks of beetroot.
This feast followed a starter of house hot smoked salmon with Carroll’s heritage pink fir potatoes, and dill and caper dressing, and preceeded sticky toffee pudding topped with extra toffee sauce.
The food at Vallum has always been brilliant, as has the service, which makes every visit a treat. Sunday lunches at the Tipi are an experience, elevating the great Sunday roast tradition into an essential experience. £18.50 for two courses and £22.50 for three is ridiculously good value for such quality in this setting. Go before the last Sunday lunch of the tipi season at the end of March.