The Newell French Bistro, Sherborne

The Newell French Bistro in Sherborne continues to provide superb food from a perfectly balanced menu. Tracey is front of house and Paul is in the kitchen. Their mussels are always wonderful and a firm favourite. They usually have two or three other fish dishes on the menu. Beautifully cooked steak is also a regular and the menu is full of interesting things like, for example, Osso Bucco. It is French brasserie cooking par excellence. They have moved their dining room from the right-hand side as you enter, to the left. The new room is much cosier than the old one. And the roadworks which have been outside for almost 2 years have finally finished, making access and parking far easier. Do give it a go soon!

The Plume of Feathers, Sherborne

Dating from the late 16th century, this is certainly one of the busiest pubs in Sherborne. Once upon a time it used to be one of the more run-down pubs in Sherborne, now it is one of the best. Not only is it a very civilised place to go for a drink, but it has excellent food. Michael & Nick were together at The Rose & Crown in Trent and now they are here at The Plume. It is a surprisingly roomy place, with two comfortable drawing rooms, a large dining room and, when the weather permits, a very attractive garden full of tables and chairs for al fresco dining. They also have a few cosy rooms for overnight stays.
One of the main attractions is, of course, the food. Michael is a talented chef and the food is always good. Their speciality is “Italian-style “small plates” (i.e. tapas!). One can order a selection of dishes and, more often than not, share them around the table. There is a selection of antipasti; quite a few vegetarian dishes; quite a few fish; some meat; pasta and desserts. Their menu is available here. Service is quick, friendly and informed.

Discount Tuesday to Thursday only.

The Greyhound, Stockbridge

Stockbridge SO20 6EY
01264 810833

When travelling to or from London we usually choose the less stressful option of the A30 and so our route takes us through the pretty town of Stockbridge. There are several places where one can eat here. Recently we ate in The Greyhound. The Greyhound is an old coaching in and has lots of character and (very low!) beams. It has a garden where one can eat out in the summer.

There is a set menu, £15.95 for 2 courses or £18.95 for 3. The set menu looked so good that we chose it on this occasion. However, the main menu had lots of appetising dishes on it which were very reasonably priced. Dishes which caught our eye included Tempura Monkfish cheeks; Beef Carpaccio with a celeriac remoulade; seared scallops; a charcuterie board; a fish board. Amongst the main courses were skate wings; fried pollock; rack of lamb; kedgeree; duck breast and various steaks.

The set menu which we had was a chicken pate on toast followed by Moules Marinière followed by a chocolate dessert. The house red was a more than acceptable Vaucluse.

They were packed, but service was cheerful and efficient

The Seaside Boarding House, Burton Bradstock

Burton Bradstock DT6 4RB
01308 897205

If you head for Hive Beach, which many of you will know, you will see a sign to The Seaside Boarding House. It enjoys a spectacular view over Lyme Bay and, unlike Hive Beach, it is rather more comfortable, roomy and cosy… and there is plenty of free parking.

Created by the same team as the Groucho Club, you will find meticulous attention to detail here. On your left there is a large bar with tables where you can eat or just have a drink or a coffee or tea. Beside this there is a restaurant where you can enjoy a slightly more formal meal. There is a good-sized terrace where you can eat and drink when the weather permits. Well-behaved dogs are welcomed, in keeping with an informal, relaxed atmosphere.

The menu is well balanced with fish and meat dishes on it. There is a good value daily set menu from Monday to Friday at £15 for 2 courses or £18 for 3. We didn’t choose this option but enjoyed a cheese souffle and a scallop dish for starters, followed by fish and chips and moules marinière for mains. Nicely cooked and presented, served by cheerful, efficient staff. Definitely a place to which we will return. Apparently the rooms are very nice too and they do terrific breakfasts, whether you are staying there or just eating!

The Seaside Boarding House is open seven days a week for breakfast, coffee, lunch, tea and supper. Reservation is recommended.

Thank you Gordon & Adrian for recommending this to us!

The King John Inn, Tollard Royal

Tollard Royal, Wiltshire SP5 5PS
01725 516207

Opened a decade ago already, the King John Inn in picturesque Tollard Royal is well worth a detour. Open for food 7 days a week, the pub offers a fine selection of draft beers for the beer drinkers amongst you. The decor is a mixture of modern and traditional, with a stunning new pale oak bar and a quarry tile floor of reclaimed red tiles. Lovely selection of framed country photographs on the walls. Mixed scrubbed oak tables. Open log fire. Immaculate loos. It’s all exactly as it should be and has been done with excellent taste.

We arrived just after noon and were the first there. A relaxed and smiling welcome set the tone and we were shown to a nice table by the crackling open log fire.

The menu when we visited for lunch was quite small but full of interest. Hot out of the oven bread (The King John Bloomer) was crusty and delicious. Recent starters have included Moules Marinière; lightly dressed Portland crab on sourdough toast; smoked stone bass with beetroot; Carpaccio of rose veal. Mains such as a pigeon breast salad with crispy bacon and croutons; pan-fried Gurnard with crushed potatoes and curly kale; twice baked Cheese souffle; fish and chips; fillet of cod with crispy oyster and a lobster sauce. There was a good selection of puds from which we shared a chocolate and orange fondant. The food was all well prepared and nicely presented, without being too “fussy”.

Service by our friendly waitress who has been there for ages (but whose name I have forgotten) and by the owner Monika, was very good and well informed.

A three course meal will set you back £30 to £35 not including drink.

The King John has kindly agreed to be listed as one of our recommended restaurants and are pleased to offer 10% discount off lunch and dinner Mondays to Thursdays. Just mention you are a member of Trencherman’s when you book.

The Masons’ Arms, Knowstone

01398 341231

Believe it or not, this Michelin-starred pub, set in deepest Devon, offers a lunch menu at £32.50 for 3 courses. This is amazing value, as Mark Dodson has to be one of the top chefs in the country, having spent 13 years at the 3 star Michelin Waterside at Bray.

Of course, we can never resist the a la carte menu! Our favourite starter is the seared peppered tuna with Oriental salad. It is just mouth-wateringly delicious! This time I plumped for the Arancini with Beetroot three ways which was very good.

Main courses were fillet of brill with a potato crust, caramelised little gem, cucumber and capers with a creamy cider sauce; and Monkfish wrapped in Prosciutto ham with breaded mackerel and scallops. Other mains included fillet of Venison, Breast of Guinea Fowl and fillet of beef. As one would expect, presentation is always perfect as are the different textures of each course and the accompanying sauce.

Ethne’s chocolate cheesecake with peanut butter ice-cream rounded off another terrific meal.

Mark & Sarah look forward to welcoming you at their pub .

L’Auberge Bressane, Paris

16, Avenue La Motte Picquet
00 331 47 05 98 37

The Auberge Bressane has become one of our favourite restaurants in Paris. The food, atmosphere and service are consistently excellent. It is in the septième again, a short walk from the métro École Militaire.

As soon as you enter you are warmly greeted, coats taken and shown to your table. It’s a small cosy place and feels “right”. The menu has many “classics” such as escargots, cuisses de grenouilles (frog’s legs), wonderful soufflés both savoury and sweet, scrambled eggs with truffles, fried squid, sole, turbot, kidneys, Chateaubriand steak, Tournedos Rossini, coq au vin, and so on!

The wine list is superb and varied. The service is always very friendly and, if you like Frogs legs, which we both do, they produce some of the best.

La Terrasse du Septième, Paris

2 place de l’École Militaire

This is a big, bustling café/brasserie on a busy crossroads. Sounds ghastly, doesn’t it? But actually it’s a great place to sit over a coffee or a glass of wine and people watch. It’s always full of life and the service is excellent and very fast. There are usually about 6 waiters on duty, each with his own area to patrol. The food is just what you would expect in a Paris Brasserie and is all freshly cooked and appetising.

Most of what the French call “les Incontournables” are to be found on their menu. Caesar Salad, Snails, Steak Tartare, Steak Frites, Chicken & Chips, Sweetbreads, Chocolate mousse, crème caramel, crème brûlée, rhum baba to name but a few.

This is not gourmet dining, but it is good honest fare, well prepared and served with a smile at almost any hour you choose to eat and booking is not necessary. What more could one ask for?!

Crab & Prawn Lasagne

This is our own invention and is a really good non-meat alternative. You can eat this either as a starter or as a main course. It is quite rich, so if you use it as a starter, you only need a smallish ramekin per person.

Ingredients for 8 as a starter or 4 as a main course.

  • 8 sheets of Lasagne Pasta; 60 grams plain flour;
  • 150 grams butter;
  • 1 litre milk;
  • 450 grams mixed brown and white crabmeat;
  • 200 grams peeled king prawns;
  • 150 grams freshly grated Parmesan;
  • 200 grams grated Cheddar or Gruyere;
  • a good handful of freshly chopped Parsley;
  • Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper.


  • Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan. Add the flour and blend, stirring all the time. Cook for a couple of minutes to cook the flour, still stirring. Remove from the heat.
  • Bring the milk to near boiling. Place the butter and flour mixture back on a very gentle heat and add the milk a little at a time stirring constantly with a whisk. Season with lots of black pepper and a little, but not too much, salt. This will only take a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and set to one side.
  • Butter your dish or dishes, depending on whether you are using 8 ramekins or one dish.
  • Place a layer of soaked (or “no pre-soak”) pasta on the bottom, cover with a mixture of crabmeat and prawns, together with some of your white sauce and generously sprinkle with Parmesan.
  • Place another layer of pasta on this, then more crab and prawns and white sauce and so on, until the dish is not quite full.
  • Place a final layer of pasta on top, cover generously with white sauce and sprinkle with grated Cheddar or Gruyere and a bit more ground black pepper.
  • Cook at 425F / 220C / Gas 7 and for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbling and golden.
  • Serve with crusty French bread.

My mouth is watering at the thought!