The old Dorset word for cowslip, The Ollerod’s new name references its 13th century roots and the flower sketched on the sign that swings above its ancient door, discovers Kathryn Lewis
Decorated chef Chris Staines and former The Pig near Bath assistant GM Silvana Bandini chose a fresh title for The Bridge House Hotel when they bought the Beaminster restaurant with rooms at the start of 2018.
It’s just one of the many new additions the hospitality power couple have introduced. Notable others include a more relaxed dining concept, glammed up guest bedrooms and a refurbed cocktail bar dripping with gem-coloured velvet and copper fittings.
VISIT FOR star aligned dining without the ponce or the price.
Chef patron Chris blends his Michelin credentials – he held a star at London’s Mandarin Oriental for seven years – with the casual country vibes of his new Dorset home.
A small plate and snack menu lets weekenders graze on familiar favourites such as grilled giant prawns, whole baked camembert and local charcuterie, before exploring globally inspired dishes like Middle Eastern spiced lamb and flamegrilled mackerel satay.
The à la carte option offers diners a whiff of Chris’ tweezer days in that dishes are impeccably presented and feature such components as burnt cucumber, salted plums and shrimp jam. Happily the swank stops there, and pleasing portion sizes, friendly service and comfortable surrounds (grab a table in the conservatory if it’s sunny) make this a restaurant you’ll want to return to time and again.
DON’T VISIT in joggers or jeans. Yes, it’s relaxed – but in a country set kind of way. You’ll want to don something befitting the glamorous bar when you’re sipping your pre-dinner negroni.
WE LIKE the idea of going to ground in one of the 13 beautiful bedrooms for a greedy weekend off grid.
INSIDER’S TIP Too stuffed for the full three courses? end on a sweet high with a scoop of homemade ice cream showered in silky Extract Espresso.
What we ate (dinner)
Starter Salad of celeriac and roasted jerusalem artichoke, mushroom and hazelnut pesto, celeriac and truffle mousse
Main Panfried fillet of cod, Thai spiced butternut puree, peanut and shrimp jam, salt and pepper prawns, citrus dressing
Pud Walnut and polenta cake, bay leaf pannacotta, blackberries, candied walnuts, apple sorbet
3 courses from £30
No one knows how to sniff out a top-notch coffee shop quite like a local roaster. So, in the first of our new series we've asked the guys at Extract Coffee Roasters to spill the beans on the best brews in Dorset
If the term "dining carriage" elicits Proustian memories of lurching down a British Rail aisle clutching a soggy tuna sarnie, you need to timetable a visit to West Bay, suggests Jo Rees