Bijou bistro

Photo by Saltwick Media

A new restaurant in Cranbrook, run by a husband-and-wife duo promises seasonal plates of food with flavours inspired by travels across the world. The Cloudberry recently opened its doors for guests to experience a regularly changing menu, in an intimate dining setting. SO magazine discovers more about this charming culinary spot…

Set in a Georgian townhouse with high ceilings, original wooden floors and tall sash windows, The Cloudberry sits at the end of a stretch of small independent shops, pubs, and cafes in the historic High Weald town of Cranbrook.

Outside and to the right of its handsome façade pokes a windmill from weather-boarded houses, and to the left, the aforementioned line of shops disappears towards the church.

Run by husband-and-wife team Toby and Beverley Welfare, who run the kitchen and front of house respectively, The Cloudberry is a tiny 16-seat restaurant, inspired by the bistros of Provence and the osterias of Tuscany. Drawing on a varied and informed palette, flavours on the menu also come from Spain, Scandinavia and Asia, and is a homage to a lifetime’s love affair with food, cooking and eating. The pair are well-travelled, well-fed and well-read, with inspiration coming by way of Simon Hopkinson, Richard Olney, Le Manoir and The Silver Spoon.

The Cloudberry has taken shape over 14 years, from being just a dream to becoming a reality. Both Toby and Beverley walked away from well-paid careers in London television jobs, with Toby working in restaurants to gain experience. The couple finally left the city for the south coast where Toby’s passion for cooking was persistent enough to take on roles in kitchens, including St Clements in St Leonards on Sea, before becoming Head Chef at Alistair Hendy’s eponymous Homeware Store’s seafood restaurant, in Hastings.

“The seed of The Cloudberry was first sown when, as a five-year-old, I sat at a restaurant table and wondered how I could possibly recreate the food I’d just eaten. A question that nagged then resulted in years of hot kitchens and long days honing my skills as a chef. A persistent hunger for cooking that has remained since and led to opening this restaurant,” comments Toby, who cooks the menu solo.

While Toby cooks The Cloudberry’s short but focused menu, Beverley runs front of house, giving a warm and personal service. The four-course menu is £45 per person, with a choice of four starters and main courses, which change regularly and seasonally.

Dinner starts with an amuse bouche, such as potato soup with Jerusalem Artichoke crostini.

This is then followed by starters such as mackerel, beetroot & apple puree, horseradish, pickled cucumber & kohlrabi or wood pigeon, chicken liver parfait on toast with spiced pears.

Main courses might include sea bass with mussels, potatoes and fennel in a crab bisque or roast pork belly, baked apple, raisin & cider sauce and braised lentils. Vegetarian options might include chive gnocchi, goats’ cheese and leek, roast beetroot, kale & salsa verde.

A choice of one pudding or cheese is offered such as set custard, plum compote, ginger crumb & lemon madeleine or a plate of Kentish and Sussex cheeses, crackers, and chutney, alongside a small and considered wine list of mainly English, Italian and French wines.

The Cloudberry is named after the Nordic plant which has small and tart yellow-orange berries, that grows in harsh conditions, but still manages to bear fruit. ‘What the plucky little Cloudberry has taught me’ says Toby, ‘is that small can be beautiful.’

The Cloudberry is open Wednesday-Saturday, 6-11pm. To make a reservation email or call 01580 712336

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