Alfresco dining
Somerset Life|September 2020
Alfresco dining
With lockdown restrictions lifted, Somerset’s restaurants and pubs are back in business and many saw a demand for outside dining. CATHERINE COURTENAY uncovers a few of the county’s alfresco delights


This countryside inn near Stratton-on-the-Fosse has long been a haunt for food fans. New owners Caroline Gardiner and Alan Lucas have extended that pedigree with Caroline’s 20 years’ fine dining experience. The 17th century inn boasts an impressive garden, with wide ranging views from the patio across to Downside Abbey. They make the most of their gardens, growing plenty of vegetables, fruits and herbs for the kitchen and providing tucked away spaces for diners to eat. Some of these areas have been closed under coronavirus restrictions, but a large marquee covering half the outdoor space, makes it even easier to dine alfresco, whatever the weather.


This stylish pub in the village of Hinton St George offers beautifully presented classic dishes like cider battered fish and chips or Somerset rarebit, alongside more inventive fare, including soft polenta,courgette caponata and stuffed summer squash flower. Its gardens are impressive and reflect the pub’s long history – it dates back to 1680. The main terrace, surrounded by Ham stone walls, is covered in a bespoke marquee, brought in this summer to provide allweather alfresco dining. There’s also a parterre, with tables set among clipped box hedges and bay trees, overlooking a boules piste. More space is available in the Pelota Wall Garden – where you’ll find an impressive 18th century wall built for the game of Fives, a forerunner to squash.


The gardens of The Bath Priory are already well-known for a spot of Georgian-style alfresco dining, but this summer a range of outdoor activities, including nature trails and garden games, have been introduced at the famous hotel and spa. There is a new selection of gourmet picnic hampers, available for both hotel and day guests to enjoy in a quiet spot in the four acres of grounds. These include a Best of British, with items like cheese, charcuterie, sausages, strawberries and dark caramel chocolate pots or an afternoon tea hamper with finger sandwiches, seasonal cakes and scones. There are children’s options too and guests staying at the hotel can opt for a breakfast picnic hamper. Call ahead to book a hamper and have it waiting for when you arrive.


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September 2020