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    Foodies from across the country go beyond their usual rituals to taste Simon Rogan’s latest menu at Land Rover’s unique winter-inspired drive-through.

    • A drive-through restaurant manned by one of Britain’s leading chefs is not something you experience every day. Especially when it’s perched atop a frost-speckled East Sussex Marilyn in the middle of winter. Hibernate? No chance.

      Such is the nature of Land Rover’s #Hibernot campaign, which, for the past three years, has pushed its owners and admirers to embrace all things winter – and this year, in their efforts to again get us out into the great yet glacial outdoors, they’re appealing to our palates.

      Making our way up to The #Hibernot Drive-Through.
      Temperatures fell to -5 on the day, despite the sun’s welcome presence.

      Land Rover believes that winter tastes rather great and to demonstrate, they’ve enlisted the talents of Simon Rogan: champion of seasonal and local produce, foraging evangelist and celebrated proprietor of Cumbria’s two Michelin-star rated L’Enclume restaurant.

      “You need to improvise, adapt and overcome the elements when picking the right ingredients in winter.”

      Land Rover also suggested that we make our way in a suitable vehicle. Subsequently, we find ourselves behind the wheel of a brand new 2017 Range Rover. As expected with such a vehicle, the south-bound motorways and A-roads segue seamlessly into the rutted dirt track and steep incline up to The #Hibernot Drive-Through. Our passage is aided off-road by the vehicle’s Terrain Response 2 system, which allows the vehicle to decide on how best to approach the uncertain footings.

      Squinting through the low-lying glare of a perfect winter’s afternoon, we spot the fleeting eatery. It’s an imposing, modernist edifice of black wood and glass, made even more striking by its isolation against the ice blue sky.

      At the drive-through window, we’re handed a tasting box, before being instructed to park amongst a parade of Range Rovers. The dining room is already packed to the rafters with enthusiastic foodies, all here to sample Rogan’s menu, which has been crafted to showcase the surprising diversity of winter fare...

    • So, let’s start with the fast food box, served up take-out style but refined to a level you’d expect of Rogan. The Berkswell Slider, Rogan’s take on the beef burger, tastes like meat but its main ingredient is cheese made from unpasteurised ewes' milk. Muddled yet dazzled, we sample the accompanying deep-fried crispy potatoes in onion ashes and confit chicken puff, before washing it all down with a hearty swig of Rogan’s own sarsaparilla soda.

      If we’d been sent home there and then (ideally with another fast food box under our arms), we would have been more than happy. But all of a sudden, the tables are cleared and the culinary adventure continues. For starters, Rogan personally serves the beetroot broth, introducing the origins of the ingredients and talking up his love of winter’s pantry.

      “We wanted to demonstrate that we can deal with all possibilities in all conditions at any time.”

      The mains (apportioned to Land, Sea and Earth) appear soon after. Land, our chosen main, is represented with Beef Shorthorn, creamed potatoes, leeks and horseradish gel. The beef, dry-aged over 90 days and briefly wafted past a huge oval ceramic barbeque, takes tender to a divine level, while the buttery potatoes and charred leeks proffer further comfort and sweetness.

    • Between courses, I spy Rogan perusing the room and monitoring the reactions of his guests. I make a beeline for the acclaimed chef and ask him to elaborate on his choice of menu.

      “I’ve used seasonal British ingredients, most of them generated from our farm in Cartmel - and produce grown locally to the drive-through,” says the master chef. “These are combined together with items picked from the wild or preserved from earlier seasons, when things tend to be more plentiful. You need to improvise, adapt and overcome the elements when picking the right ingredients in winter. Seasonality, availability, the environment and weather were all key factors. We wanted to demonstrate that we can deal with all possibilities in all conditions at any time.”

      Not wanting to keep the chef from his kitchen, I return to our table before the liquorice-meringue-laced carrot cake with parsley ice cream arrives on cue with an interesting napkin designed to promote further winter adventures.

      A map disguised as a napkin inspired guests to explore the local area.
      Lining up to attend The #Hibernot Drive-Through.

      As the front-of-house team clear the tables, we join a conversation with outward-bound enthusiast and TV presenter, Julia Bradbury, who offers up suggestions of local places to explore:

      “We’re spoilt for choice in Sussex,” enthuses the famed fell-walker. “You’ve got one of Britain’s most dramatic stretches of coastline along the Seven Sisters. It’s blustery, and it helps if you’ve got a head for heights, but it’s well worth the effort.”

      As the afternoon rounds off, we join forces with a group of our fellow diners for an impromptu jaunt to the Seven Sisters and, having pre-warmed the Range Rover with the smartphone-operated Remote Climate Control, we happily go forth into the sub-zero temperatures; warm and nourished and happy converts to the ethos of Hibernot.

      Author: Andy Stone

      i. Do not forage without an expert.
      ii. Terrain Response 2 is standard for all derivatives with the exception of Vogue.


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