Planning a day out in the glorious Dorset countryside? End it on a high with dinner at one of these rural finds
The Ollerod, Beaminster
The beautiful town of Beaminster is a popular destination, thanks in part to talented chef Chris Staines and his field-to-fork inspired dining at The Ollerod (pictured above).
Gorgeously fresh ingredients – many of which are sourced from local producers and the restaurant’s own kitchen garden – are put to good use in Chris’ contemporary à la carte dishes. For diners who want to explore more of his creative cooking, there’s also a tempting menu of small plates.
Start the evening with a pre-dinner drink in the stylish bar, or the sunny courtyard if the weather’s good. Ask the bartender for their pick of the cocktail list which features a who’s-who of Dorset distilleries and producers.
Summer Lodge Country House Hotel and Restaurant, Evershot
This luxury hotel, located in a postcard-perfect Dorset village, offers so much more than just its stunning countryside setting.
Inside the Grade II-listed house, grand oil paintings, twinkling chandeliers and a wood-panelled library (complete with enviable whisky and cognac collection) bolster the rural-luxe vibe. While, in the 24 individually styled bedrooms and glamorous suites, four-poster beds, antique furniture and original fireplaces continue the theme.
Refined cooking from head chef Steven Titman is a smart match for Summer Lodge’s elegant setting. The seasoned chef uses only the finest locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to create classic British dishes with an international edge.
The Fontmell, Shaftesbury
This contemporary dining pub is the perfect spot to unwind after a long stroll. It’s naturally split into two dining areas by a babbling brook which flows between the cosy bar and smarter restaurant, and both sides of the waterway offer an attractive setting for head chef Armando Fernandes’ modern British cooking.
Whether you’re indulging in three courses from the fine dining menu, tucking in to rustic fish and chips by the fire or sharing a family-style supper outside, the vibe is relaxed and friendly.
A fabulous drinks list includes The Fontmell’s own house beer, Sibeth Ale, brewed nearby by Keystone Brewery, as well as natural wines made by small, independent winemakers.
Acorn Inn, Evershot
Dorset day-trippers in the Evershot area know to work their itinerary around a trip to Acorn Inn. The 16th-century coaching inn ticks all the “classic rural pub” boxes thanks to its log fires, oak panelling, bare beams and original skittle alley.
However, it’s the fantastic food crafted by award winning chef Robert Ndungu that elevate the dining pub into a different league altogether. Robert’s smart dishes pay homage to the surrounding Dorset coast and country, and seasonal compilations such as pan-roasted cod with lyonnaise potatoes and Japanese kale, dill and saffron velouté champion local fishermen and producers.
The inn’s collection of comfortable bedrooms, well-stocked bar and beautiful Dorset setting make it nigh-on impossible to resist the temptation to spend the night.
Tytherleigh Arms, Axminster
Located on the Devon/Dorset border, this former coaching inn has provided food, drink and hostelry for people passing through the south coast’s glorious stretch of countryside for around 500 years.
Today, the team at Tytherleigh Arms continue to honour its heritage with a menu of modern British food, a well-stocked bar and collection of cosy bedrooms.
If you’re dropping in for lunch after a walk in the surrounding countryside, plump for the pre fixe menu which includes casual classics such as beer-battered hake and chips, truffled mac ‘n’ cheese and West Country beef rump with parmesan fries.
If you enjoyed Take 5: Rural Dorset dining, find more Trencherman’s Take 5 collections here.