Having grown up in a country where an establishment from the very late 1700’s is one of the oldest you will see, I find age impressive in a venue, so I should admit to that bias first off.
Being a history obsessive I was quite keen to visit the venue that has nurtured part of a plot to overthrow the monarchy, facilitated the meeting of Churchill and Eisenhower, and then got all posh and was frequented by Elizabeth Taylor and other high society friends.
I have to say after it’s more recent refurbishment it is really quite the gem. Attention to detail leaks from every surface, classic wild flower arrangements in steel pewter jugs on wooden sanded tables, to old skeleton keys hung prominent around the bar area did a great job of satisfying my picky aesthetic eye.
The grounds are extensive and carefully planted in a wild English garden way, including an old army tent as a marque and spacious lawns. There is an abundance of private facilities, such as a music room (inc grand piano), large drawing rooms and a chapel (with associated function capacity) not to mention a highly praised hotel.
However I came here for the food! They offer a seasonal weekly rotating menu, carefully planned and executed. The started included Dorset crab cakes and chicken liver parfait (I did try this, poached from a nearby plate and found it to be quite perfect) I however opted for the snail on toast. Not too salty or garlic laden, cooked gently with crunchy bread. I was happy as could be!
The mains ranged from skate wing to duck breast, however I settled on veal schnitzel and plum tomato salad. This is a huge dish, well done and very appealing. If I didn’t eat so much I may have even gotten to the home made ice-cream, oh well, there is always next time (and I am determined there will be multiple next times!).