Soft white napkins, opulent furnishings and mood lighting are not generally images you might conjure of a restaurant in a retirement village
However standards are rising. Haut cuisine is now de rigeur and the heat is on to lure foodies who put fine dining high on their menu when choosing a retirement property and want to retire to a good restaurant that has a vibrant and inclusive feel.
The Redwood Bistro at Bishopstoke Park, Anchor’s flagship retirement village in Eastleigh, Hampshire, has set the standard as the first retirement village restaurant to be awarded an AA rosette – and only opened in January.
In the open-plan dining area which overlooks a terrace and gardens, tables are adorned with crisp white cloths and fresh flowers and diners sit on comfy high-backed chairs.
In between devising menus and whipping up foams and purees classically-trained head chef Robert Quehan, 37, (pictured above with his team) feeds his culinary passion by taking his boat out on his days off to fish for seabass, seabream and mackerel which he serves his guests alongside the wild mushrooms he has picked in the nearby forest.
“We are so lucky to have such a rich variety of food locally,” says Rob, formerly of the Dorchester Hotel and London’s Ivy and Mossiman restaurants, with an eye on his second rosette.
“Hampshire is a great source of fresh vegetables.” Expect to find Masterchef-style dishes on the Redwood menu such as a starter terrine of partridge and trompette mushrooms served with fig chutney and a main course of pan-roasted cod with a prawn mousseline wrapped in cabbage leaf, alongside potato rösti and mussels.
Rob, and his five-strong team, devise four separate menus a day – a la carte, table d’hote, light bites and soft dishes for the nursing home. However they are renowned for their mouthwatering deserts including tiramisù with vanilla ice-cream and chocolate nougatine and rice-pudding ice cream.
General manager Kevin Young is a qualified chef himself and has driven the fine-dining concept.
“Some residents wanted it just for the village owners and others were happy to open it to the local community so it could be profitable,” he explained.
“The profits are put against service charge which means residents pay less.”
Such is the success of the fine-dining bistro where you can enjoy a two-course meal for under £20 that work is underway to expand and double the number of covers to 84 and open a new bar and pub food section offering simpler dishes and street food which Kevin hopes will attract a more diverse clientele and lively atmosphere. www.anchor.org.uk