Dorset is bursting with quality local ingredients, whether grown in the earth or straight from the sea. And all that fresh coastal air is perfect for working up a thirst and an appetite.
From traditional country pubs with roaring fires and regional ales to fine-dining in an idyllic garden setting, or gourmet ice cream on the quayside, Dorset has it all. With a real passion for provincial produce, there’s no shortage of destinations offering an authentic taste of the region.
For fresh family fare
This traditional pub is in one of Dorset’s most attractive villages and was taken over by Roly and Helen Harries in 2013. Providing home cooked food in a welcoming environment, the place has a real family friendly feel and is a great place for lunch or dinner.
The menus are changed regularly according to the season and availability. Produce is sourced locally from the farm, friends of the owners or specialist suppliers and there’s always a great selection of guest ales on tap.
Children are welcome to try any of the meals in a smaller portion and if you haven’t got time to sit down, why not take advantage of the takeaway menu, available Monday to Friday, which includes favourites such as beer-battered cod and chips, Blue Vinny lamb burger and plaice goujons.
The pub’s name comes from the local cheese and dates back to the days when every Dorset farmer’s wife, made her own Blue Vinny (the old English word for mould) after milking. Rumour has it that to help encourage the growth of mould, the wives would dip old horse harnesses into the vats or even store the cheese next to mouldy boots! These days, taste a good Blue Vinny and you will find a hard, crumbly cheese, creamy white in colour, with lighter, finer blue veins than Stilton...with no hint of old horse harness or boots!
Fire and ice-cream
If you like dinner to be served with a bit of theatre, why not try the Black Rock Grill in Wareham? A super hot volcanic rock is brought to your table and you take on the role of chef, cooking your chosen cut of meat or fish. The rock sears in all the natural juices and flavours, using no oil, making it a healthy and delicious way to enjoy your favourite meals cooked exactly to your liking.
Alternatively if you fancy a lighter snack, why not visit the adjoining ice cream parlour and coffee shop? Overlooking the River Frome, on a sunny day you can take a seat on the quay and watch the world go by.
A spot for special occasions
If you’re looking for a fine dining experience, the Priory is, as our expert photographer Andy Farrer sums up, “to die for!” Set on the River Frome and surrounded by quintessential English gardens, this stunning country house is steeped in history and makes for a luxurious gastronomic experience.
The mouth-watering menus lovingly combine fresh regional ingredients alongside exotic and imaginative accompaniments and, with a selection of dining rooms to choose from, it’s an ideal venue for a special occasion with family and friends. The selection of English sparkling wines, produced in Dorset, make a lovely addition to any celebration.
The Priory also offers an excellent morning coffee and afternoon tea menu which, in the summer, can be enjoyed on the picture-perfect River Terrace.
From field to plate
The freshness of the food at The Pig on the Beach is clear from the menu, which includes headings such as ‘picked this morning’ and ‘garden-sides.’ In fact, the team are so zealous about fresh local food, the ingredients which can’t be grown in their own kitchen garden or extensive vegetable and fruit beds are only brought in from within 25-miles of the restaurant.
Having won a host of awards, this is a great place to enjoy a meal with some of the best views in the area.
Food with fun on the cider
What do you get when you mix talented friends, a love of cider and an abundance of fantastic fresh produce? The Stable started in Bridport in 2009 and now boasts a menu of quirky British-themed pizzas and hand-crafted pies. Cider lovers can choose from single variety specials to proper local brews which bring the best of the West Country to the table.