Old meets new in the country
The concept of candle-lit dinners may feel a bit old-school, conjuring images of formal dining à deux, so be prepared to have your preconceptions snuffed out at Candlelight Inn.
Owners Mike and Simon Rose-Macleod have given the charming 17th century pub a tasteful contemporary makeover via country-living styling and smart food – and the result is fabulous.
You have to put in the effort to get there – it’s uber rural, in the heart of the Blackdown Hills – but every twisting country mile is worth it for Aaron Ashworth’s on-point cooking and the friendly service from Mike and team.
Go casual and order from the pub menu in an astonishingly attractive bar, or book a table in the beams-and-fireplace dining area where a more upscale menu is paired with hedgerow flowers on the table and, of course, flickering candles.
Beautifully prepared multidimensional dishes showcase local produce (including ingredients from the garden) and in appropriate portion sizes, so you can do pudding without sinking into a food coma. In fact, the desserts are worth pacing yourself for: crisp buttery mille feuille, pleasingly wobbly pannacotta, seriously good homemade sorbets and handcrafted petits fours (plus locally roasted speciality coffee) are utterly top-notch.