The Lord Poulett Arms, Hinton St George
Muddy says: Trad pub with added comfort and style, excellent grub and its own petanque piste and rare pelota wall (bet you don’t know what that is)
People have been coming here to sup a pint since 1680. The pub, in the picture postcard village of Hinton St George (I swear I’ve seen it on a box of chocs), near Crewkerne retains all of the original character – thatched roof, huge inglenooks, flagstones, thick hamstone walls – but with added comfort and style.
It’s very much a pub, rather than a restaurant, albeit one with excellent food and now under the management of the same team (ex-Soho Housers) behind The Talbot in Mells, The Beckford Arms in Fonthill Gifford, and newly opened Beckford Bottle Shop in Bath.
Eat and drink in the main bar, smaller side bar and a further dining room. In the warmer weather, sit on a terrace overlooking a French-style garden planted with herbs for the kitchen, a petanque piste and rare pelota wall, once used to play Fives, an ancient ball game similar to squash (and incidentally, still played at Eton).
Of course, the menu’s seasonal, locally sourced and made, cured and smoked in-house. Expect Somerset twists on pub classics – so cider, rather than beer, battered fish and chips – and inventive fusion-style dishes like braised squid stuffed with chorizo, squash pancakes with kimchi, guinea fowl with spaetzle. West Country cheeses. Wear your elasticated trousers for the puddings. Local ales and ciders, trad English meads, a good wine list and the beer’s from Somerset’s Butcombe Brewery.
Upstairs are five swish bedrooms; three en suite and two with private bathrooms – all with Egyptian cotton sheets, Canadian goose down pillows, vintage Welsh throws, smart TVs and gorgeous, handmade natural Bramley toiletries. Breakfast’s included.
Lots of stuff to do nearby: walks from the village, historic houses (the Elizabethan Montacute House and Forde Abbey), cider makers and the Jurassic coast.