The Trencherman’s Guide has long celebrated the very best places to eat in the South West, but the 31st edition shows it’s time to expand our perspective on the definition of the most exquisite dining experiences, says new editor Abi Manning
The ceremony of multi-course meals and starched linen still holds huge appeal to those chasing a real sense of occasion. But, as the latest edition of the Trencherman’s Guide shows, chefs and restaurateurs are finding ways to extend their core business and incorporate a variety of dining experiences that don’t compromise on quality – whether that’s wood-fired pizzas in a hotel garden or a family-friendly beach bar.
The independent dining scene – and the Trencherman’s Guide – is moving into a new era. The concept of fine dining is far from dead, but there’s a clear movement towards a more casual restaurant experience. This is the direction the industry is now taking – largely as a result of rising food and energy prices putting pressure on restaurants, as well as the cost-of-living crisis for consumers. However, quality is still key, and Trencherman’s member restaurants must still surpass the same exacting criteria for being in the guide as they always have – they simply come in more guises. A casual meal using hyper-local ingredients cooked extremely well is equally as valid as a multi-course tasting menu.
We’re incredibly lucky in the South West to have such an abundance of incredible chefs paving the way for this new era of dining, and along with their teams they are finding innovative methods to use the rich produce of our land and sea to create memorable dining experiences.
The 31st edition of the Trencherman’s Guide contains 25 fabulous new restaurant members, evidence of the talent that continues to flourish in this food-rich corner of the UK. Here’s a taste of just some of them:
Food for the family
Bedruthan Hotel & Spa in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall, is a stylish spot for the whole family. A swish spa for adults is paired with plenty to keep kids entertained, while everyone will enjoy the quality cooking.
Formerly Highbullen Hotel, The Mole Resort combines classic and contemporary in the wilds of north Devon. The estate has rebranded and relaunched as a destination for family breaks and active escapes.
Established in 1736, The Bath Arms at Longleat is a traditional yet stylish country inn on the edge of the unspoiled Longleat Estate in Wiltshire, and provides a charming environment for lingering over lunch or enjoying a sumptuous supper.
The Rising Sun Inn is a traditional 18th-century pub in the shadow of brooding Bodmin Moor, and captivates with an enticing menu, a fascinating past and striking surroundings.
An eclectic renovation paired with a superior food offering have earned The Sheppey a position at the heart of its Somerset community. The funky country pub has hidden depths within its part cider house, part boutique hotel interior.
Hyper local and eco conscious
There’s a delicate balance of ethical sustainability and utter indulgence to be found at groundbreaking Scarlet Hotel in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall. The adults-only hotel leads the field in providing a sophisticated yet eco experience.
Holm was launched by Nicholas Balfe (part of the trio who established esteemed London restaurants Salon, Levan and Larry’s) in his home county of Somerset of 2021. The surrounding fields supply many of the ingredients that contribute to the ever-evolving menus.
Yak Yeti Yak was the UK’s first purely Nepalese restaurant when it opened in 2004 in the basement of one of Bath’s grand Georgian townhouses. Owners Sarah and Sera Gurung serve home-style cuisine inspired by their travels.
A pub in the heart of Glastonbury isn’t the first place you’d expect to find some of the best Middle Eastern food in the country, but Queen of Cups is where Leiths graduate Ayesha Kalaji draws on her Jordanian heritage and French training to craft genuinely unique dishes that dazzle with bold flavours and bright colours.
Family-owned Chez Dominique has established itself as a firm favourite in well-heeled Bath, oozing Parisian charm from its prime position close to Pulteney Bridge.
Get the guide
Want to discover more unique dining experiences in the South West? Order your copy of the new Trencherman’s Guide now and kickstart your gourmet adventures. The new guide costs just £9.99 and is crammed full of write ups and details on 106 of the most exquisite restaurants and places to stay across the region – from Cornwall to the Cotswolds. Establishments are invited into the guide on meeting strict and exacting quality criteria, to give readers total confidence in the carefully curated collection. Order it here.