Daylesford Farmshop and Café, Daylesford nr Kingham, Gloucestershire

Daylesford is probably the most famous farm shop in Britain. A retail heaven of organic gorgeousness on the edge of the Cotswolds, it has grown over the past 10 years into something between a mall and a Japanese temple, selling not just food and produce, but clothing, gardening equipment, homeware, yoga classes and spa treatments. Alex James, who lives nearby, once described it in The Independent as "absolutely ridiculous, fantastic and sexy", and gratefully recorded how Daylesford's gentrifying effect had sent the value of his house rocketing.

Daylesford is much less of a curiosity now than when it first opened and was dismissed as a rich woman's plaything – its founder is eco-chatelaine Lady Bamford, whose husband is the "B" in digger manufacturers JCB. Early visitors would return with incredulous reports of the rural farm shop's exquisite produce and even more exquisite customers, who famously included Liz Hurley and Kate Moss. But it's harder to dismiss Daylesford as an organic folie de grandeur now that it has survived, diversified and expanded – there are two Daylesford cafes in London, as well as various spin-off ranges.

A working farm, Daylesford is easy to distinguish from its Cotswold neighbours. The hedges are more kempt, the golden stone buildings more immaculate, even the grass looks greener. A fleet of black SUVs stands in the car park, surrounded by chatting groups of honey-maned women, holding babies and takeaway cappuccinos. Desirable benches are scattered around, bearing discreet price tags.

The farm shop, with its colour-coded fruit and veg, walk-in cheese room and wet fish counter, is Selfridges food hall in miniature; if this was my local food store, I'd be slobberingly grateful, and a lot less solvent. The original farm shop café was extended last year, and is not just bigger, but apparently much slicker, according to my lunch companion, a designer friend who is a Daylesford regular.

It occupies a restored barn adjoining the shop, pale and tastefully rustic, in a Californian, Martha Stewart-ish way. The walls are nubbly whitewashed brick, growing herbs sprout from zinc pails on every limed oak table, and a giant dried lavender heart hangs from the roof beams. At one end, two chefs dart around silently in an immaculate open kitchen. "She really spends the bucks," whistled Sarah appreciatively.

Everything on the monthly changing menu is organic (except for the olives and olive oil) and most of the meat served is reared on the farm. But the July menu seemed rather generic – Welsh rarebit, smoked salmon with melba toast, roast beef with horseradish, beefburger, roasted chicken leg, potato wedges. Given the exquisite produce for sale next door, I was expecting something more... interesting.

Uninspired by the meat dishes, I went for fish – not the obvious choice, on a farm in a landlocked county, but as it turned out, a good one. My main course of pollock, roasted in the wood-fired oven, was the star of our meal, the fish falling into firm, cod-like flakes under its crisp, well-seasoned skin, and served with crushed new potatoes and buttery braised peas.

Other dishes were hit and miss. Chilled tomato and fennel soup from the daily specials was fine, even if the fennel was undetectable, and a dessert partnering roast peaches with olive oil and thyme cake was subtle and summery. But a selection of seasonal salads, including a particularly nasty one made with char-grilled courgettes, wet garlic and pine nuts, was over-chilled, and, at £12.95, over-priced. "If you got this in the café at John Lewis, you'd be quite pleased, but it's hardly Ottolenghi," said Sarah, pushing aside a grey, flabby piece of bacon that had lost its moorings in a Caesar salad.

What seems clear, though, is Daylesford isn't trying to be Ottolenghi. The café isn't catering just for displaced Notting Hill ladies who lunch; it's trying to be accessible to regular people, on regular budgets. It seems to be working – the place was almost full on a wet Tuesday lunchtime, and there were plenty of what Liz Hurley might call "civilians" among the yummy mummies in skinny cargo pants. And though the place has been criticised by locals for its high prices, they didn't strike me as ridiculous (those salads apart); it would be perfectly possible to have a light meal and a drink, and escape for less than a tenner.

Service, too, has apparently improved a lot since the expansion; we were charmed by our waitress, a natural resource of organic cheerfulness, who answered our every picky request with a sunny "yes!" We couldn't ask the million-dollar question, of course, the one that must occur to every visitor to Daylesford: "Does this place actually make a profit, and if so, how?"

You have to admire the energy that has gone into it, though. As a showcase for an eco-fabulous lifestyle, Daylesford is miles ahead of the competition. It's just a shame that as a showcase for organic food, the café isn't quite as dazzling.

Daylesford Farmshop and Café, Daylesford nr Kingham, Gloucestershire (01608 731700)

Food 3 stars
Ambience 3 stars
Service 4 stars

Around £25 a head for three courses, before wine and service

Tipping policy: "The service charge is 10 per cent, and it all goes to the staff in the cafe"

Side Orders: Farm cafés

Frizzante Café

This Italian café at Hackney City Farm serves delicious food – try the Tuscan sausage and Parmesan risotto.

1a Goldsmiths Row, London E2 (020-7739 2266)

River Cottage Canteen

Mutton merguez sausages with spelt and mint yoghurt is a typical, locally sourced dish at Hugh F-W's Devon eaterie.

Trinity Square, Axminster (01297 631715)

Farmcafé Ham hock hash

with sauté potatoes, savoy cabbage and two fried eggs is a typically hearty dish at this farm outlet on the A12.

Marlesford, Woodbridge, Suffolk (01728 747717)

Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
world cup 2014
Popes current and former won't be watching the football together
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial