Imagine Gordon Ramsay presiding over the kitchen within the night then getting up early subsequent morning to muck out the pigs and weed the vegetable beds. Never thoughts Ramsay, it’s an implausible state of affairs for any head chef however issues are performed in a different way at Abbot’s Court, a seven-bedroom nation home in Dorset.
For a begin, the restaurant has two head cooks, Mike Parry and Alex Naik, a uncommon instance of a job-share within the notoriously ego-driven world of high-end cooking. And that’s it: no sous chef, no pastry chef. Mike and Alex do every thing. This contains foraging within the surrounding woodland, rising produce within the walled kitchen backyard and serving to with the chickens and pigs (that are destined for charcuterie).
Abbots Court map
Jez and Niki Barfoot got here up with the concept of a largely self-sufficient resort whereas operating a restaurant, the Tickled Pig, in Wimborne. A buddy tipped them off concerning the derelict Abbots Court, with its 5 acres of overgrown grounds on the Drax property in close by Winterborne Kingston, and after a number of months of restoration they opened in January. A “living wall” constituted of felled bushes reveals what number of invasive species they needed to lower all the way down to create the tranquil backyard in entrance of the home.
The Domesday Book information a farm on the positioning, whereas the present constructing is a grand Victorian farmhouse. It will not be precisely a resort – there is no such thing as a reception or room service – however to name it a B&B can be to promote it brief. It is a type of modish boutique retreats that goals for a “staying with friends in the country” vibe. It works; it feels luxurious however unstuffy.
The renovation was sponsored by Farrow and Ball and the entire place is a look-book of the most recent paint and wallpaper developments – full with discreet playing cards naming the shades and types for friends to get the have a look at home. There is a lounge (shade: London Stone), a bar (Inchyra Blue) and a 14-seat restaurant (Eating Room Red) downstairs, with all of the bedrooms upstairs. The Barfoots have restored the unique flooring tiles, wood shutters and fireplaces, which have log fires in winter (it was gloriously sunny after we stayed). Vanity Fair caricatures strike a pose on the partitions.
The Oxford, one of many property’s seven bedrooms
Rooms are named after rare-breed pigs. Tamworth (wallpaper: Feather Grass) was huge, with dual-aspect home windows giving far-reaching views over yellow fields of rapeseed. The rest room (Down Pipe) didn’t have a shower however did have beautiful British-made Bramley merchandise.
OK, it’s a strolling advert for a paint company nevertheless it’s tastefully performed and there’s a connection: Farrow and Ball was based in Dorset in 1946 and its paints and wallpapers are nonetheless made close to Wimborne, with designs impressed by the native countryside.
We had a pre-dinner drink within the fairy-light festooned bar. The sommelier, Helen Winnett, matched Dorset-distilled Conker and Lilliput gins with tonics, and paired our meals and drinks at dinner, too. She had a refreshingly free-spirited method, mixing conventional wine pairings with the odd sherry, amaretto and even vodka.
Dish of pork stomach, scallops, crispy sage and burnt apple purée
Jez, himself a MasterChef quarter-finalist, is aiming for a Michelin star and he has chosen his cooks correctly. We had the tasting menu (£60) and nearly every thing was beautiful, from the bread (mini cottage loaf with butter and fennel seed salt) to the native cheeses with home made crackers and fig chutney. It is unimaginable to decide on a favorite course however contenders embody a just-picked wild garlic and nettle soup, delicate cured trout and lamb with tarragon.
Dishes learn merely, with three-word descriptions (“trout, sorrel, kale”) belying their complexity – the trout was juniper-cured and served with sorrel cheesecake, sorrel sorbet, crispy kale and a savoury crunch. Occasionally there was an excessive amount of happening: pigeon breast with quail’s egg, asparagus, pickled crimson onion, truffle and mash was an ingredient too far, however largely they had been superbly judged. The solely misstep was the dessert, which sounded scrumptious – beetroot, chocolate, cherry – however didn’t fairly ship on flavour or texture. Breakfast was a full-on fry-up, with eggs, hash browns and mushrooms tasty sufficient to overshadow the sausages.
The home is on the outskirts of the village and is a nice 15-minute stroll to the closest pub, the Greyhound. Sadly, it has been over-modernised. We continued alongside farm observe and footpath to Bere Regis, a few miles additional, the place there may be extra selection. The riverside city of Wareham is a 15-minute drive, and it’s one other 10 minutes to Corfe Castle, and 25 minutes to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.
The Barfoots have large plans for Abbotts Court. Bell tents and shepherd’s huts are arriving quickly, together with an outside smokery. Foodie workshops have already begun, such because the Catch It, Cook It fishing days. Meanwhile, Mike and Alex are busy pickling and preserving spring veg in between providers. Gordon Ramsay eat your coronary heart out.
• Accommodation was supplied by Abbots Court (doubles from £90 B&B), 01929 448638, abbots-court.co.uk
Ask a neighborhood
Jackie Phillipson, co-founder, Taste of the South meals pageant
For native meals, attempt La Fosse in Cranborne, which runs month-to-month supper golf equipment alongside its ceaselessly altering seasonal menu. The subsequent one is vegetarian and vegan (£27.50 for 3 programs, 23 May).
Check out The Gin House in Wimborne for cocktails; it serves greater than 100 native and worldwide gins.
Athelhampton House close to Dorchester is an attractive 15th-century manor home with architectural gardens. Lulworth Castle and park is a 17th-century mock fortress – you may climb the tower for panoramic views of the Purbeck countryside.
Arts By The Sea is a multi-arts pageant in Bournemouth in September and October, whereas BEAF, the perimeter pageant, takes place in April and May.