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Chow in Chew Stoke

Breakfast, lunch and dinner (or just coffee and cake) at this laid back bistro

This is what Somerset does so well: delicious, locally-sourced food in an unpretentious setting hidden away from view – in this case, off the main drag in the village of Chew Stoke, a stone’s throw away from Chew Valley Lake.   Chew Kitchen has been open just over a year and is already incredibly popular with the locals, so read on to find out why it’s worth making the trip up (or down) to eat out at this Somerset restaurant/cafe.

THE VIBE

Relaxed bistro – Somerset style.  So alongside the stonking coffee machine and industrial-look pendant lamps there are fluffy sound-absorbing clouds hanging from the ceiling and country-style distressed tables and pastel coloured chairs.   It’s built on the site of the old Bilbie church clock factory (apparently the clocks, dating back to the 17th century, are worth a fortune – do let Fiona Bruce know if you come across one), hence the plethora of clocks. There’s some decking out back with tables, sun umbrellas and a galvanised trough of fresh herbs which are used in the kitchen.

Rob’s partner and co-owner Nicki is South African – and so is the rifle over the doorway

THE GRUB

Chef and owner Rob and his team serve up ‘classic dishes with a Chew twist’.  Choose from the set menu (standards like burger, mac and cheese) or from the daily changing specials blackboard (when we were there, it included kedgeree, pulled pork, braised faggots and an anti pasti platter).  My burger was juicy, delicious – and, I know size shouldn’t matter, but it was huge – in a soft brioche bun. Loved the home made coleslaw, chutney and generous dressed salad. Chips perfectly cooked

Plenty of salmon and tiger prawns in the tagliatelli and tomato, olive and caper sauce, which came with a hunk of garlic bread. The sauce was rich,  flavoursome and not too sweet (and definitely not a ‘lazy’ tomato sauce!)

Small choice of desserts. Here’s the affogato (sweet vanilla ice cream – affogato literally means ‘drowned’ – in a shot of hot, bitter, espresso from that super shiny coffee machine) and a creamy cheesecake with an aromatic berry syrup flavoured with honey, red wine, star anise, clove and cinnamon…mmmmmm.

OUT AND ABOUT

Take your binoculars: you’re a stone’s throw away from Chew Valley Lake. The largest expanse of water in the south west is a Site of Special Scientific Interest with 10 miles of reedy shoreline and more than 270 species of waterfowl and birds. Lots of nice walks in the area too. Here’s an easy 2-miler around the nearby village of Chew Magna and a 5-mile route with fab views of the Mendip Hill and across the Chew Valley.

MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: pop in for coffee and cake, breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday lunch with pals or family or on your own (bring your laptop if you like). Returning customers – the menu changes daily so you won’t get bored.

Not for: hard to think of anyone who wouldn’t like this laid back place.

The damage:  You can get a lunchtime sandwich with salad and chunky chips for around £7; set menu mains 34.50-£10.50; daily specials around £9-£15.  More expensive at dinner with starters aaround £4.94-£6.95; mains £10.50-£18.85.

Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday lunch.  Mon-Sat 9am-4pm; Thurs-Sat 6.30pm-11pm-ish; Sun 9am-5pm.

Chew Kitchen, Chew Lane, Chew Stoke, Somerset BS40 8UE. Tel 01275 332933. chew.kitchen

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Somerset