For three decades, the Trencherman’s Guide has chronicled the best dining experiences in the South West. To mark the publication of the 30th edition this autumn, editor Jo Rees shares five venues that are new to the guide – and should be on your hit list
The Barrington Boar, Somerset
‘Refined comfort food’ is how Alasdair Clifford describes his cooking at this contemporary country pub near Ilminster. The chef, who previously worked at Chez Bruce and The Glasshouse, returned to his home county with his wife Victoria Collins in 2018 to take over The Barrington Boar.
The duo refreshed the pub’s interior and menu and created a stylish setting in which their guests can feast with friends and family. Working closely with local farmers, foragers and cheesemongers, Alasdair crafts gratifying dishes that offer a taste of the local terroir.
He and Victoria also collaborate with regional breweries to offer an ever‑changing collection of ales and ciders.
Thornbury Castle, near Bristol
Henry VIII may have only spent ten days at his grand pile on the south Gloucestershire border, yet the interiors of Thornbury Castle are dressed as if it’s expecting a second visit at any moment. On the panelled walls of the historic dining rooms hang gold‑framed portraits of his relatives, while the guestrooms are furnished with the kind of palatial four‑poster beds and opulent fabrics you’d expect of royal quarters.
Executive chef Carl Cleghorn’s refined dishes perfectly complement this sumptuous setting. Using the finest locally sourced and castle‑grown produce, he crafts classic European dishes executed to the highest standards.
Ugly Butterfly, Cornwall
‘There’s no such thing as an ugly butterfly, in the same way as there’s no such thing as food waste’ is the philosophy that weaves through chef Adam Handling’s restaurant and bar at Carbis Bay. The dining experience is built on an ethos of sustainability and zero‑waste.
At the stunning seaside venue (one of Adam’s trio of restaurants which include Frog in Covent Garden and The Loch & The Tyne in Old Windsor), his menus are executed by head chef Connor Blades who started working with Adam when he was just 15 years old.
Five‑ and seven‑course menus (both vegan and non‑vegan) utilise the freshest locally reared and landed ingredients and deliver them in dishes such as St Enodoc asparagus with beach herbs and pilchard, and salt‑aged lamb with morels and wild garlic.
Harbour Beach Club Hotel & Spa, Devon
On evenings in high summer when Salcombe town overflows with tourists seeking a slice of south Devon coastal chic, those in the know head round the corner to South Sands to soak up the vibe without the hordes.
The gleaming new hotel‘s bar and restaurant overlooks South Sands Beach, and clued‑up visitors swing by to sip cocktails alfresco and feast on seafood in the slick dining room. It’s also a pretty fabulous place to stay the night – and wake to the sound of waves lapping the shore.
The Castle Inn, Wiltshire
At the heart of the Cotswold‑stone village of Castle Combe sits this characterful 12th‑century coaching house. It’s a well‑loved spot where those who’ve spent the day rambling the countryside, or teeing off at sister venue The Manor House’s 18‑hole golf course, gather to feast on authentic country fare.
Satiation can be found in head chef Jamie Barnett’s crowd‑pleasing two AA rosette menus which offer an upmarket take on traditional pub classics. In summer, ravenous patrons devour the likes of wild boar lasagne with Tunworth cheese, summer truffle and herb salad while seated on the sunny terrace. In winter, a cosy dining room with log fire awaits.