Food and Art at Hauser & Wirth - Somerset

I can't think of a better way to spend a chilly Sunday afternoon in February, than with a delicious lunch followed by a wander around a fabulous art exhibition! So, we did just that last weekend. Scott surprised me on Valentine's Day, not with a dozen red roses or breakfast in bed this year, but, with a huge box of beautiful Prestat chocolates to enjoy whilst we journeyed to... Well, I actually had no idea where he was taking me! It wasn't until we reached Hauser & Wirth in Bruton, Somerset, that everything fell into place. Scott knows I love art and trying out exciting new restaurants, so, this turned out to be our perfect way to spend Valentine's...

When we arrived, we headed straight for The Roth Bar & Grill and once seated, ordered our drinks; a sweet and refreshing 'Somerset Honey Daisy' plus a 'Latte.' Just a word of warning; you might need to book up in advance if you plan to make a trip there, as we saw some people being turned away - the restaurant was fully booked and there wasn't even any space left at the bar. A good first impression though (for us at least!), as a full restaurant must mean good food!

The service was a bit slow from the get go, however, the restaurant was jam packed as I mentioned previously, and it looked like the staff were rushed off their feet trying to attend to all the full tables. Fortunately though, when our orders were eventually taken, we didn't have to wait too long before we could get stuck in!

The most delicious 'Roast Pork, Fennel Seeds, Crackling and Apple Sauce.' One of the best Sunday roasts, we both decided, we had ever tasted! The pork was so succulent and juicy, the crackling, ohhh the crackling! That was very special indeed. The roast potatoes were caramalised and crispy on the outside, yet fluffy and creamy within, and the vegetables were sweet and perfectly seasoned too. An all round big thumbs up for this dish!

I chose the veggie option; 'Baked Butternut Squash, Pickled Ewe's Cheese, Pomegranate and Pesto.' It was a vibrant plateful; slowly roasted butternut squash topped with crumbly ewe's cheese, sweet crunchy pink jewels of pomegranate and a fresh pesto dressing. The salad was a little skimpy and there wasn't too much of the sauce, so I did ask for a little extra pesto which added an extra punch of flavour.

As we had skipped starters, we obviously found plenty of room to enjoy some puddings! The 'Salted Caramel and Chocolate Torte' and 'Yogurt Panna cotta and Caramelised Oranges.' 

The chocolate torte was melt-in-the-mouth delicious! Just looking back on these photos is making me crave another huge bite!

The panna cotta was thick, creamy and equally good. I am definitely going to try and replicate the dish at home. If it is a success, you'll know where it'll end up!...

I forgot to mention that the restaurant is crammed to the rafters with art work of every variety; drawings and paintings in lots of different mediums, to sculptures and photographs decorating the walls. It's like the exhibition next door has spilled out into the dining area, which I assume was Hauser & Wirth's intentions! It's just how I would love to fill my dining room; a creative person's paradise! Some of the pieces were quite quirky and unusual... Not too sure what we made of the fluffy, dressed up hare below... I just hope he doesn't turn out to be Easter Bunny, otherwise, my childhood fantasies have been destroyed in a heartbeat!

He does look a little sinister, don't you think?! Not just because he is holding a rifle, it's those piercing eyes!...

After our fantastic food, we made our way to the art exhibition, stopping by for a few photo opportunities along on the way...

Hauser & Wirth's latest exhibition, 'Invisible Reality,' is presented by contemporary 'New-Delhi based artist,' (Hauser & Wirth Press Release) Subodh Gupta. Born in Khagaul, Bihar, India, in 1964, Gupta has showcased his astonishing collection of artwork at both solo and group exhibitions all over the world. His body of work takes inspiration from French conceptualist, Marcel Duchamp; employing 'many of the original techniques [of] elevating the ready-made into an art object.' (www.saatchigallery.com) The works in his latest exhibition, 'Invisible Reality,' displays his 'signature use of functional and found objects relating to his home country.' (Hauser & Wirth Press Release) This ambitious new collection of sculptures and installations was created over a six year period, and, highlights the 'differences between our mortal lives and the mysterious cosmos beyond. (Hauser & Wirth Press Release)

Personally, I love nothing more than being able to get up close and personal to a piece of artwork; to see in detail, the artist's physical thought processes presented there, right in front of you. To almost be able to smell the paint (!), to even observe slight flaws or blemishes in the surface of the work, I feel creates a sense of wonderment and intrigue to the eye of the beholder. Of course, I believe art can and should be appreciated from a distance too, such are my feelings towards viewing Leonardo Da Vinci's iconic 'Mona Lisa.' To me, it appears so much more powerful and emotive if you take ten steps back and appreciate it in all its solitariness. That's of course if you have the gallery room to yourself, which is highly unlikely any time of the day or year to be honest! Anyway, Subodh Gupta's work enables you to walk around each piece, appreciate it in its raw form and marvel at its greatness. Let's take a look, and I'll show you what I mean!

Touch, Trace, Taste, Truth
2015
Brass, steel, barbed wire

I 

Sunset
2015
Carved marble almirah, projector, screen

There is Nothing Outside the Text
2015
Terracotta jar, wire, steel

Pressed for Space (A series of 6)
2015
Aluminium, fabric, resin

Invisible Reality
2015
Wood, terracotta, light, fabric, stainless steel, transducer, amplifier

Chanda Mama door ke
2015
Found aluminium utensils, fish strings, steel

After an hour or so of enjoying Gupta's amazing work, we stepped outside into the bitterly cold air to explore the landscaped gardens. Designed by 'internationally renowned landscape architect Piet Oudolf,' (www.hauserwirthsomerset.com) the gardens feature a '1.5 acre perennial meadow, which sits behind the gallery buildings.' (www.hauserwirthsomerset.com)

We ventured over to The Radić Pavilion, which was installed in March 2015. This unique structure, which we marvelled at, was designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic and apparently, 'first unveiled as the Serpentine Gallery 2014 Pavilion.' (www.hauserwirthsomerset.com)

Once inside, you feel like you're in the shell of an egg! The walls look like they are made from papier-mâché, yet it's white, translucent fibreglass that makes up the structure of the shell. 

Specimen No. 108
2015
Stainless steel, stainless steel utensils

After we had seen everything there was to see at Hauser & Wirth, we headed back to Bath, full of creative ideas and artistic talk, plus very full, happy tummies! I would certainly recommend a visit to The Roth Bar & Grill, but allow yourselves time to walk around the exhibition either before or after you dine. Subodh Gupta's 'Invisible Reality' is running until 2nd May 2016, and it is well worth seeing!

For opening hours, how to get there, and all details regarding the current exhibition, the restaurant, and Hauser & Wirth, please visit:

www.hauserwirthsomerset.com