Ummmm….where’s the sun gone?! Please tell me this rain/ hail/ wind is merely temporary and full sunshine service will be resumed shortly!!!
I have spent today sheltering indoors whilst upcycling some furniture; a new chair for our bedroom and a table for the hallway. I like giving old furniture a new lease of life this way but don’t usually have the time to spend a few days sanding and painting.
Today I wanted to share a restaurant we visited whilst camping in Dorset recently. For my birthday two years ago, Ian treated me to lunch at The Wild Garlic in Beaminster, a charming restaurant owned by Masterchef winner Mat Follas. I was desperate to go back again when we were in the area but learned that Mat is now cooking at The Casterbridge Hotel in nearby Dorchester so we headed there instead!
We started with cocktails in the lounge (a little bit formal for my liking) and I had ‘Mat’s Fizz’, a champagne cocktail with elderflower and lavender. This was very sweet but delicious with the lavender giving it a lovely purple colour.
Seeing as this meal was to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, we decided to push the boat out and opt for the 6 course tasting menu…because why not?!
To start, we had a cup of spiced roast tomato soup, served cold like a gazpacho. This had the aniseed-like taste of fennel and packed a punch with the chili. You could ask for this to be served hot but I liked the contrast between the heat of the chili and the chilled soup.
Next up was one of my favourite things, scallops. These were small but cooked perfectly and served with black pudding, pickles and a creamy sauce.
More fish followed with this beautiful piece of plaice (which Mat told us was fresh off the boat that morning) in a brown butter and samphire sauce served with clams and new potatoes. This was a really simple dish that just allowed the natural flavour and sweetness of the fish shine through. I would definitely order this again if I returned.
We had a beetroot and carrot amuse-bouche next which was refreshing followed by triple cooked pork belly. Just typing that makes me hungry! This pork belly had been slow cooked for 18 hours and was falling apart when you cut into it. It was presented beautifully and served with roasted heirloom vegetables, a sweet potato puree and a big chunk of crackling.
We finished up with two puddings, the first of which both Ian and I hated but the second of which more than made up for it!
The dish was simply called ‘Elderflower and Gooseberries’ and was in fact a delicious elderflower jelly topped with the most sour and acidic tasting gooseberry cream. I can see that the sweetness of the elderflower was meant to complement the tartness of the gooseberries but the cream was just way too sour for my tastes. This was the only negative of the meal for me but the guy on the table behind us was raving about this dish so different strokes for different folks and all that!
I finished up with ‘Chocolate and Pear’, a lemon-poached pear and the most decadent and gooey chocolate brownie which was topped with peanut powder. I was pretty full at this point but could not resist practically licking the plate clean!
Ian was all pudding-ed out at this point so he had the cheeseboard to finish up which had a great selection of local cheeses and crackers.
The tasting menu was just under £50 per person which I can justify as it was a treat and the quality of the food was fantastic. The location is not as nice as The Wild Garlic but I get the impression that this hotel venue is only temporary. I did have a slight fangirl moment when Mat came out to talk us through some of the dishes and he was so keen to discuss the food and where it was sourced from.
Overall, this was a very decadent evening with a wonderful selection of food and I recommend this place if you find yourself along the south coast.