Plunging down the narrow, twisty-turny verdant lanes to Clavelshay Barn is a mini adventure in itself, says Rosanna Rothery
This characterful 18th century stone barn turned multi-award winning restaurant and cookery school may be in easy reach of Taunton, Bridgewater and the M5 yet, due to the utter serenity of your surroundings, you’d never have guessed it.
Sitting in its own secluded wooded valley on the edge of the Quantock Hills, Clavelshay Barn is evocative of a simpler way of life. Drive past sleepy fields, gnarly trees and lush hedgerows and you will be assured of a convivial welcome at the working dairy farm run by Sue and William Milverton.
VISIT FOR all-round sensual pleasure as head chef Olivier Certain indulges both the eye and the tongue in exquisite garden-flower-garnished dishes that wow with fresh flavour and utilise the farm’s glut of pork, rose veal, wild rabbit, pigeon and pheasant to superb effect.
DON’T VISIT for ostentatious grandeur. Decor is in keeping with the original features of this converted barn, which demonstrates an impressive commitment to green energy.
WE LIKED the countryside-themed artistry (quirkily creative yet practical flourishes like sound mufflers fashioned like clouds are fun) and the rustic wooden features (think oak floors, a cedar staircase and spectacular elm roof).
INSIDER’S TIP Listen to bird song, feel the soft countryside air tease your hair and watch the stars come out as you sip a Wicked Wolf Exmoor gin and Fever-Tree tonic on the sheltered terrace.
What we ate (dinner)
Starter Whipped Vulscombe goat’s curd, heritage tomatoes, basil sorbet, aged balsamic, toasted pine nuts
Mains Seared fillet of Lyme Bay stone bass, risotto nero cake, red pepper compote, aubergine puree, bouillabaisse juices, saffron aioli
Pud Valrhona chocolate delice, iced cherry parfait