Where To Eat
Somerset has become a delicious part of the food tourist trail, particularly in our region. Led initially by Catherine Butler and Ahmed Sidki who created At The Chapel, in Bruton, the area has become universally regarded as having some of the most sensational and pioneering restaurants in England in the shape of Merlin Labron-Johnson of his restaurant Osip and deli The Old Pharmacy in what has become highly fashionable Bruton. It also has some great pubs, gastro and otherwise. Here are some of our most popular recommendations. Please contact us with any queries or more ideas.
Merlin at his sibling restaurant to Osip, The Old Pharmacy. You often see him operating there
Osip, in Bruton, owned by Michelin starred Merlin Labron-Johnson. People travel for miles to dine at this restaurant.
We love this positively gastro pub so much that we held Martin's 70th in its private dining room known as The Skittle Alley. The team are all ex Soho House and you can tell with the attention to detail everywhere. It is about 30 minutes away from our door so it is somewhere to head to for a Sunday lunch or maybe on your way home if you venturing East or towards Bath. It is also good to go to if plan to visit nearby Longleat or Stourhead. The pub is on The Duke of Somerset's land and has a zero waste philosophy.
An excellent local pub with a landlord who has seemingly been there for ever. Sean is as much a feature of the pub as is its food. He and his wife pride themselves on offering fine fayre with a Continental twist. Set in the pretty village of Shepton Montague, a mere five minutes away by car, it is a firm favourite with our guests, including canine ones. Don't be deceived by the apparent sleepiness of the village or pub - a French family who came to stay with us were astonished to find that not just one French speaker in the shape of Sean, but three of the waitresses spoke fluent French too. It's a pub that is good for kids as there is a good outdoor area which is wonderful in the Summer months and has fabulous views. Dogs are welcome in the bar.
One of our most popular pubs for our guests to go to simply because it is no more than 100 yards away from our front door on the opposite side of the road. Few come back disappointed. It is good value, does home-cooked food, the portions are generous and it has an extremely friendly set of staff and landlord. Its feted for its pies although Martin always has ham, egg and chips. Its Toblerone cheesecake is something of a legend. Hurry though if you want to go because the pub is up for sale as the landlord's retiring. Note: since Covid the pub only opens for food from Wednesday to Sunday lunchtime.
The Botanical Rooms at The Newt In Somerset
For Seriously Posh Nosh
For fine dining at a price, look no further than The Botanical Rooms at The Newt In Somerset, no more than one mile or two away from our front door. This is the place to go to for a treat or that special occasion. It had teething problems when it first opened in 2019 and opening times became confusing following Covid but it has settled into something supremely special. Staff, service and food are impeccable and the setting is lovely, cosy in winter in the panelled dining room area and refreshing in Summer in the Orangery style section. The downside is that you have to be either staying there to enjoy a meal or a member of The Newt. It's expensive but worth every penny. Other restaurants at The Newt open to members include The Garden Cafe which confusingly isn't really a cafe (the real one is by the main entrance at the top of the boardwalk), but an excellent restaurant serving vegetable dishes sourced from its garden with meat on the side. Its open during the day only and has fantastic views of the garden. Great for vegetarians.
At The Chapel, Bruton
Or Where It All Started
If it weren't for Catherine Butler and her designer partner Ahmed Sidki, Bruton wouldn't be on the map in the way that it is today. For it was the two of them who started the whole food revolution in the area, put Bruton on the map and made it hip. Open seven days a week, from morning til night, it was the place to eat and be seen, even for children. Journalists flocked to its door, celebrities dined there. But it wasn't just a restaurant. Its bakery was legendary, breakfasts superb and in addition it provided oodles of entertainment from exhibitions, talks and other events. Soon others followed suit - Hauser & Wirth opened its gallery nearby and restaurant and then Osip joined in the fray. The rest is history and now Bruton is noted as being The Notting Hill of the countryside. The venue recently been given a new kick in its instep as it is under new ownership which seems to be serving it well. Its advantage is that Bruton is not far from our doorstep and its one of the few places locally open on a Monday night. Other popular places to eat in Bruton include Matts Kitchen, where you bring your own booze, and the brand new and lively Prickly Pear pub serving Mexican food.
The Clockspire, Milborn Port
The West Country's Answer To The Ritz
We adore The Clockspire, an architectural masterpiece set in an old school house in Milborn Port, near Sherborne. It has style, substance, fantastic service, a wonderful Maire D', sublime food and, well, just about everything you could possibly want in a top restaurant. Publicity wise it lacks the attention that the restaurants in Bruton get and we can't think why. Just walk up the stairs to the bar area and you feel like you are entering into a James Bond set. All you need to truly feel the part is a Martini shaken and not stirred which the excellent bar team can conjure up with aplomb. The restaurant area is no less inviting. It's sibling restaurant near Newbury, The Woodspeen, has a Michelin star and we don't feel that this will be far behind in the accolade. Our top choice all round and about 20 minutes away by car.
The Roth Bar & Grill, Bruton
For Culture Vultures And Foodies
Possibly one of our favourite Friday or Saturday night haunts and overall restaurant generally, the Roth Bar, which operates under chef Steve Horrell (formerly of At The Chapel) and rarely fails to deliver. Sunday lunches are excellent too. It isn't just the food which is good, it's also the ambience and in the day time you get to see an exhibition too thanks to its contemporary art specialist umbrella owner Hauser & Wirth. At night, there's always the art on the walls to admire all featuring Hauser & Wirth artists. It's a certainly a top choice for our guests, lunchtime and supper (Thursday nights and weekends only) and has a great outdoor area which makes it popular for those with dogs.
The Red Lion at Babcary
Perfect For A Lazy Sunday Or Monday Night
This pub is owned by friends and so we are biased but it also used to be Martin's local before he moved to Castle Cary. It is a proper country pub in a handsome 17th-century thatched building about 15 minutes from us in the pretty village of Babcary. Finding somewhere open on a Sunday or Monday night is a tough one post Covid around our area but The Red Lion is unfailingly open, as is the equally reliable The King's Arms at Charlton Horethorne and The George Hotel in Castle Cary.
The Queens Arms, Corton Denham
Dogs And Muddy Boots Welcome
The Queens Arms used to be the 007 of all pubs: Daniel Craig is said to have stayed there after all. Aside from that, it was where we all congregated especially for a Sunday lunch, or a pint and pie after a long dog walk, and was universally selected as everyone's favourite pub of choice. It lost some of its gloss after its ownership changed hands but it is now under new ownership again and management and rapidly becoming a firm favourite once more. Danny and Sharky are the duo who run it and their pedigree is impeccable from having worked at the Beckford Inn, Roth Bar & Grill and The Newt. The interior has been revamped but though it may be have a bit more style it still remains a place where dogs are muddy boots are welcome. The outdoor area is one of the best for Summer months. We always recommend it in particular if you are looking for a big walk with a lunch interlude in between. From us it takes about 15 minutes to get there by car through some classic country windy lanes. The walk from nearby Cadbury Castle along the Corton Ridge to the pub is unrivalled for its views of Somerset and Dorset combined.
The Three Horseshoes, a newly restored 17th century Coaching Inn, has always been a popular pub but under its new owner Max Wigram, better known for his eponymous London gallery than pubs, and in collaboration with the top chef Margot Henderson, it is set to be a top foodie destination as well as local. Opened in April 2023, the pub's team are working with local producers to provide fine fayre in true Margot style in a fabulous setting - Batcombe is one of the prettiest and most popular villages in the area.
The George Hotel, Castle Cary
Our Main Local, Built From The Old Castle of Castle Cary
The George Hotela glorious thatched building built from the stone of the original Castle of Castle Cary. In its heydey it was THE pub of the area where friendships were made and gained all around and it was even featured on an Esther Rantzom programme, but after being taken over by the Brewery Greene King it lost some of its hutzpah though it has still remained a wonderful core part of the town and is consistently open which makes it perfect for a Sunday or Monday night venue. Recently, the pub has been acquired by The Newt In Somerset so it is a case of watch this space.
And Now For Something Something Completely Different
Our Top Farm Shops
We have some excellent farm shops near from the North Cadbury village store which specialises in Montgomery cheeses and more to Teals on the A303, a store to rival Gloucester Services without the petrol station and including an excellent cafe. We feature here The Newt's farm shop, Durslade's, Teals' and Kimbers'. Click on the photos for links and do ask us for further suggestions on other places to eat and visit.