It’s hard having an overachieving older sibling. There’s a lot to live up to. So unfortunately for Elodie, the flagship restaurant at Birch’s second location in Selsdon, Croydon, the expectations were high.

Over in Birch Cheshunt, the first of the two hotels, The Zebra Riding Club is another Robin Gill success story.

Housed in former stables transformed into a boho-chic rustic restaurant and with a menu of dishes made with delicious things plucked from Britain’s lands and waters, The Zebra Riding Club fits Birch’s ‘let’s unwind in nature but do so like middle-class city hipsters not dirty hippies’ schtick to a tee.  Independent to this, it is just a very good restaurant.

Over in south London meanwhile, Birch Selsdon opened its grand Victorian doors in August, for days basking in bygone grandeur and in 200 acres of rewilded land, but with oat milk and Wi-Fi on hand.

Just like The Zebra Riding Club and in-line with the whole Birch thing, Elodie is a little bit of high-end indulgence styled out with laid back vibes.

The restaurant is captained by Lee Westcott whose A-list work history is littered with names such as the Galvin brothers, Copenhagen’s Noma and Jason Atherton. When Westcott went on to open his first restaurant, Penson in Worcestershire, it was mere months before the awards started rolling in, including a Michelin star.

Housed in the main estate, Elodie’s resplendent 19th century bone structure has been brought into the modern world with a gentle nostalgic colonial twang. The cosy lemon and amber coloured interior dotted with well-placed parlour palms, scallop trims and zebra print curtains in a smart brown and navy combo give the room the air of a film set too. Two huge bright paintings, one of a young Black woman wearing an ADIDAS zip up, the other, her male equivalent, bring the room back to south London, 2023.  

Lee’s five course tasting menu is only £69. The wine paring, which goes down a treat, is £49. As far as tasting menus created by a Michelin-starred chef plus drinks go, that’s pretty good.

For some reason we had eight courses for dinner that night, each looking like the sort of thing a well-to-do woodland fairy living in the rewilded land nearby might eat. Singing nature’s praises, the dishes were pretty and colourful, made with foraged bits and bobs and decorated with petals and herb sprigs.

A rich little croustade stuffed with a creamy mix of smoked cods’ roe, wild garlic and marigold started the procession of food off, which was then followed by a dense log of potato pave. The golden stack of layered potato slices dotted with garlic aioli is how I want all my potatoes done from now on.

The freshly baked round of still-warm sourdough that came with musty marmite butter sprinkled with roasted yeast was so moreish, that not only did we take the waitress up on having a second loaf (completely unnecessary), but Andy, my vegan date for the night, helped himself to the spread. Twice.

The heritage tomato wheel that followed was stuffed with Cornish crab and aioli was good, but the grilled courgettes that came next were a standout dish.

A combination of things I would have never considered placing together, fingers of lightly grilled courgette sat on a verdant puddle of bright herby sauce next to a slice of crunchy turnip and sweet green grapes decorated in sprigs of greenery.

The lamb was also a favourite. Coloured I’m-so-mortified-pink, the tender flesh was even more of a treat when smeared through the salty olive tapenade and the delicate mint-coloured jus. The vegan herb encrusted artichoke equivalent also garnered greedy approval.

The light and summery strawberry halves at the centre of dessert sat on a thin crisp surrounded by a thick border of pimped up yoghurt wore a sugar dusted wafter like a fascinator.

As an aside, the dishes on Andy’s vegan menu looked – and tasted – every bit as good as mine, so plant-based easters shouldn’t leave feeling like they’ve been punished for their herbivore ways.

As another aside, try a cocktail. The short list also reads like something woodland creatures would riot on under the light of a full moon. These too come with foraged things and ingredients such as lemon and celery air, which sounds like it should be something to make fun of, but is actually a pretty impressive creation.

Under the shadow of The Zebra Riding Club, Elodie had a lot to live up to but the younger Birch restaurant is more like a Jake Gyllenhaal than a Charlie Sheen, thankfully.

Address: 126 Addington Road, South Croydon CR2 8YA