We spent last week exploring the public rights of way through the Tisbury area of Wiltshire, walking about 8-15 miles per day. Lunches and dinners were a much-needed break, and I was delighted with many of the places we visited.
Beckford Arms in Fonthill Gifford was the poshest pub atmosphere we encountered – after finishing up, we counted four Porsches out of the six cars in the lot. Dining room is conservatory-style, with a view to the back lawn and boules court. Bring your Hermes scarf and fancy dog. Food was well selected and prepared, and the most “Master Chef” in presentation of any of the pubs we visited. I had a beautifully roasted guinea fowl with globe artichokes; husband had a crisp pan-fried hake with plump mussels from the River Exe. They advertise wood-fired pizzas on Fridays; we weren’t there on a Friday, but did see a few pizzas carried past, so perhaps that’s flexible (or they were testing recipes?).
The Forester in Donhead St Andrew was a lovely place to dawdle. They make their own elderflower and St. Clement’s syrups; I had a light, refreshing elderflower fizz when we arrived. We shared taramasalata (cod roe + olive oil dip) with house-made brown bread. I’d love to have had more strength to the crust, the crumb was nicely dense. Pan-fried John Dory with butter beans and roast tomatoes was marvelous. My husband asked if they would make their spring vegetable risotto a main size for him; they did, and it was great, thick with peas and broad beans.
Howards House in Teffont Evias was an unexpected find at the end of one day’s trail – we had a very poor lunch elsewhere and just shy of 3 p.m. walked into the tiny village of Teffont Evias to check out the parish church, when we spied a hotel with a little sign outside advertising lunch and dinner. We were too late for lunch, but had tea and made reservations for dinner. The three-course seasonal a la carte at £32.50 is an absolute steal considering the quality of the cuisine. I think this may be among my favorite meals in the last year. The stand-out app was a goat’s curd with poached pear, a black pepper biscuit, and sherry vinegar caramel. With so many strong flavors, the balance had to be perfect – and it was. Guiltily – after exclaiming at every adorable lamb we passed on our walk – I ordered the local Wiltshire lamb. Not too guiltily, because the plate was wiped clean. Dessert was a pile of sliced strawberries in syrup and some tiny meringues which tasted to me of popcorn – I can’t remember the description on the menu (one posted online didn’t match what we were offered). Unexpected and so good, would definitely make a special trip to return.
Beckford Arms menu: http://www.beckfordarms.com/food-menus/
The Forester menu: http://www.theforesterdonheadstandrew.co.uk/menus.html
Howard’s House menu: http://www.howardshousehotel.co.uk/pdf/Our%20Restaurant%20Menu.pdf