Dorset Food and Drink
Spending time with your loved ones over a shared meal is one of the nicest things about a holiday. From one too many cocktails in your new favourite bar with friends to a hearty roast with three generations of family, good food and drink is at the heart of lifelong holiday memories. Dorset has some amazing places to dine out and our local team have curated this guide to help you choose where to go when you fancy taking a break from self-catering in one of our Dorset Cottages.
Bridport and West Dorset Food & Drink
Whatever you bring to Bridport and West Dorset make sure to pack your healthiest appetite – it’s a gourmand’s heaven!
Bridport itself is home to the almost routinely excellent Bull Hotel. The hotel was built in 1535 and has a long and varied history. Bull Hotel was the scene of a murder during the ill-fated Monmouth Rebellion and played host to Princess Victoria in 1834, but these days it is far more likely to welcome TV and film actors, as well as the many locals and visitors drawn by its superb food. Simpler but no less tasty food can be found in the distressed chic of the Soulshine Café, while the Olive Tree offers a new take on classic Italian dishes.
West Bay has witnessed a surge in tourists who are just as hungry for glimpses of the Broadchurch filming locations as they are for the excellent food on offer by the beach and quayside. Arguably the queen of the scene is Rachel’s Seafood Shack with its delicious platters, chowder and fish and chips. Nearby, the two-level Riverside Restaurant is billed as Dorset’s premier seafood restaurant and provides plenty of evidence to back up the claim.
The Station Kitchen, located in the old railway station, has been a huge hit, with its commitment to local seafood and quality produce, while Seagulls Restaurant offers quaint, rustic and casual dining at the seaside. Set on the beach itself, is the superb Watch House Café, which is also a sister location to the superbly quirky Hive Beach Café at Burton Bradstock. Perched on the cliffs above the Hive is the nationally celebrated Seaside Boarding House. Elegant and relaxed it offers a sophisticated but accessible menu made all the tastier by the uninterrupted views out to sea.
Just a short drive up the road in Beaminster is Mapperton House. Rated by Country Life magazine no less than the nation’s finest manor house, Mapperton is indeed a stunning house and may be familiar to film fans from its starring role in the recent adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd. A visit is richly rewarded with excellent fare in the Sawmill Café made with free-range and local ingredients… so be sure to save room for a slice of Dorset Apple Cake!
Lulworth Cove and South Dorset Food & Drink
As you’d expect Lulworth Cove and the whole of South Dorset are rich with tantalising food from both land and sea – the local beef and lamb is exceptional and there’s certainly no shortage of fresh seafood here either.
Head chef John Box has established Limestone as one of Dorset’s finest restaurants with meat, fish and vegetables supplied by small local producers – indeed it’s not uncommon to enjoy a lobster dinner that has come from Lulworth Cove itself! As much a part of Lulworth life as the rocks themselves, the Lulworth Cove Inn is one of the most popular pubs in the portfolio of local brewery Hall and Woodhouse.
Just a short drive inland and you’ll also find first-rate pub food at the Sailor’s Return at Chaldon Herring; the Weld Arms in East Lulworth; The Red Lion at Winfrith Newburgh and near Wool The Seven Stars, which is deservedly lauded for its hearty portions.
Lighter bites and home-cooked breakfasts are a speciality at the popular Holme For Gardens nursery and cafe at East Holme, while the picture-postcard village of Kimmeridge is home to the family-run Clavell’s restaurant that makes the most of local seasonal produce to enhance a fine reputation that reaches far beyond the immediate area.
In Wareham, the gateway to the Isle of Purbeck, you’ll find an excellent choice of eateries from the top-notch Anglo-European dishes of the Priory Hotel and the riverside location of the Old Granary, to the home-cooked foodie haven that is The Salt Pig.
Wimborne and North Dorset Food & Drink
As with the rest of Dorset, there’s no shortage of excellent food and drink in the area that will suit all tastes and budgets.
Wimborne is home to the Tickled Pig, noted for its inventive use of fresh local produce including its own pork. Elsewhere there’s the stylish Olive Branch pub restaurant, classic home cooking at Cloisters, the popular Number 9 café and excellent pub food at the Stocks Inn, White Hart and Kings Head.
The modern menu at La Fosse in Cranborne has won plaudits from a raft of national food critics, some of which have also taken the trouble to seek out the culinary delights of the Saxon Inn at Child Okeford and the Drusilla’s Inn at Horton.
Blandford Forum set on the banks of the River Stour, is a charming Georgian market town offering plenty of things to see and do, including some excellent local food and drink. The Georgian Tea Room and Yellow Bicycle Cafe and Deli each offer fantastic traditional local treaties, while the Brewery Tap - Hall & Woodhouse Brewery is the perfect place to stop off for a bite to eat and a refreshing drink, or to enjoy a tour of the brewery before browsing the on-site shop.
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If you are looking for a taste of the exotic Namaste Gurkha is a seated restaurant offering authentic Nepalese food. The restaurant also offers online ordering for both delivery and collection, meaning that you can enjoy delicious Nepalese food from the comfort of your holiday cottage or even outside in the garden on warmer summer evenings.
The surrounding villages boast a wealth of excellent pubs including the White Horse, Stourpaine; The Cricketers, Iwerne Courtney; The Milton Arms at Winterborne Whitechurch and The Anvil in Pimperne.
One of Dorset’s best-kept secrets is the Compton Cafe on Compton Abbas airfield, just outside Shaftesbury. The cafe enjoys a terrific reputation locally, while the airfield itself offers experiences throughout the year in addition to special events throughout the year.
Other fantastic local eateries include the popular Ship Inn and La Fleur de Lys restaurant, as well as the Salt Cellar at the top of Gold Hill, which offers good food along with one of the best views in the county. If you are looking for something extra special, The Fontmell at Fontmell Magna has received glowing reviews in the Daily Telegraph and the Taste of the West amongst others. The restaurant has also received a mention within the Michelin Guide, which recommends The Fontmell as a “stylish dining pub in a delightful rural spot.” It should be noted that the Michelin Guide is separate from the famed Michelin Star award, the guide is no less discerning and typically makes recommendations based on unique individual quirks. In the case of The Fontmell, this is down to the venue’s excellent bar; a unique blend of traditional, Mediterranean and Asian flavours; and the restaurant’s own rare breed Old Spot Pork.