While canny diners journey miles to eat at Corton Denham’s Georgian inn, the ingredients arriving in its kitchen travel mere metres from the village smallholding. Kathryn Lewis hit the road …
Cruising through the countryside in hazy Friday afternoon sunshine, it’s easy to see why city folk clock off after lunch and speed towards The Queens Arms for a long and greedy weekend.
Teetering on the Somerset/Dorset border, the honey-coloured pub is perfectly positioned for fidgety types who want to let off steam on the nexus of footpaths which sprout from its doorstep, as well as short-breakers more inclined to indulge in lazy afternoons punctuated by a pint and homemade pork pie.
VISIT for authentic field-to-fork dining.
The big bland chains have cottoned on to the popularity of farm-to-table restaurants and – just as with the gastro pubs – are trying their hardest to kill the concept through weak imitation. Thankfully, provenance isn’t easily faked and at The Queens Arms a village map marking the location of the producers and suppliers proves that this is the real deal.
A few yards down the road, a smallholding with pigs, chickens and veg planters keeps the kitchen seasonally stocked with fresh ingredients. Head chef Max Richfield regularly gets together with the gardeners to see what’s coming up and you’ll often spot his sous popping out to gather fresh herbs from the garden.
DON’T VISIT for cheap eats. The team apply the same sourcing philosophy to the short line-up of pub classics (think Wild Beer battered haddock with hand-cut chips, crushed peas, pickled shallot and tartare sauce) as they do the hero dishes, so be prepared to pay for quality.
WE LIKED the ballsy use of bold flavours.
On our visit, a starter of beef carpaccio could have been so-so, yet salty accents of Blue Vinney, tangy pickled wild mushrooms and the sweet crunch of candied walnuts pulled together a memorable dish to tease all the senses. A side of sunshine yellow courgette ribbons studded with mint, chilli and citrus, and stuffed with silky ricotta, produced the same gratifying effect.