As part of my birthday present from Ian, he took me to The Wild Garlic in the beautiful town of Beaminster in Dorset, which was about half an hour away from where we were camping.
We arrived a bit early for lunch, so had a quick drink in a nearby pub and a nosy around some of the lovely antique shops.
There is a very relaxed and rustic feel about the restaurant when you first enter, from the pale green walls, foodie photographs on the walls and little beetroot plants on each table. The tables themselves were one of my favourite things in the room – each were engraved with a variety of things from poetry to varieties of potatoes…we were sat on the ‘Game Table’!
Upon viewing the menu and specials board, it was clear to see the ethos behind the restaurant of the food being fresh, seasonal and local where possible.
There was the option of a reasonably priced set lunch menu (£14 for 2 courses, £17 for 3) or a wider a la carte option. We ordered from both and had a nice English rosé wine to enjoy.
While we waited, we were brought a small plate of pesto popcorn to nibble on. I really enjoyed this and the pesto was superb but Ian wasn’t keen on the idea of a wet sauce with popcorn (although this didn’t stop him tucking in!)
For my starter I had the very simply named ‘Cheese and Pickles’ and the most beautiful plate of food arrived before me. There was a quail’s egg, cubes of creamy goats cheese, another block of goats cheese with a caramelised top, a variety of lightly pickled vegetables and a sweep of beetroot puree. The whole dish was wonderfully put together and one of those where every mouthful was different but everything complemented each other really well.
Ian opted for the scallops from the specials board which were served with a sweet potato puree and black pudding crumble. I wasn’t sure of the sweet potato and scallop combination at first, given that scallops are already quite sweet, but again the two textures and flavours complemented each other well. The only request would be more black pudding!
In between our starter and mains we were brought a carrot and lemongrass soup which was a perfect palate cleanser and one I will try to make myself at home as the fragrant lemongrass worked really well with the sweet, earthy carrots.
As you know, I love risotto and so I couldn’t resist the wild mushroom spelt risotto that was part of the lunch menu. A simple dish but when it is done well is a thing of beauty in my opinion, and I was not disappointed. The risotto itself was both perfectly creamy and cheesy, and it was topped with some really earthy pan fried mushrooms which added a lovely texture.
Ian ordered the plaice from the specials board and it was served in one the biggest dishes I have seen – I hope my photo does it justice! It was perfectly cooked and topped with a herby, buttery sauce and capers, and served with new potatoes…stunning.
Finally, onto the puddings: I convinced Ian that, as it was my birthday and I was struggling to decide which dessert to have, we should go for the sharing platter which involved a little bit of everything!
This was my highlight of the meal but if you are dieting then look away now!
Starting from the top of the picture there was a citrus crème brulee, lavender shortbread, a scoop of tea ice cream, warm chocolate brownie and a coffee pannacotta…perfection.
It’s hard to choose a favourite part but I did love the tea ice cream which was delicate yet really did taste like a cup of milky tea! The brownie was also deliciously indulgent and the citrus crème brulee got the balance of flavours just right.
I have to admit that I had first heard of this restaurant following the head chef’s appearance on Masterchef a few years ago, but have since seen Mat Follas at several food festivals around the South West and after seeing his style of cooking decided that I would love to eat at his restaurant.
I loved our visit here to The Wild Garlic – a relaxed atmosphere, lovely dining room and great food. They even had Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes playing in the toilets…what more could you ask for?!