I know we've given things away a little bit in the title... but just feast your eyes on this beautiful dessert and tell me it's not pudding perfection on a plate! Vanilla cheesecake cream, juicy Cheddar strawberries, buttery shortbread crumb and tasty strawberry sorbet - deconstructed and delicious, and the perfection doesn't stop there.
The award-winning Lord Poulett Arms, in the handsome village of Hinton St George, is basically a must-visit if you love your gastropubs with history, a warm welcome, cosy interiors and gorgeous gardens to while away the hours in on a lazy afternoon.
We were lucky enough to spend a few of our hours there recently and for us, there are a couple of things that set the Lord Poulett apart.
1. Food glorious food
Ahh believe me, it's seriously glorious. Chef Phil Verden is a wizard in the kitchen and whether you're after a stalwart pub classic or something a little different, you won't be disappointed.
We kicked things off with a twice-baked goats cheese soufflé, basil, pine nuts and cream. It was the light and fluffy stuff of Vegetarian dreams, that's for sure.
There was melt-in-the-mouth Loch Duart salmon for Graeme too, with a zingy lemon crème fraîche, rolls of perfectly pickled cucumber and butter-dipped radish. The ooh's and ahh's coming from his side of the table told the story of a very happy chappy, and it's not too hard to see why. What a fab combo, with the tang of the cucumber adding a welcome contrast to the succulent fresh fish.
Graeme's on a bit of a mission to find Somerset's finest fish and chips at the moment and so he plumped for exactly that next. The crisp Thatchers Gold cider batter made all the difference and the crushed peas and chunky chips were a huge hit! Loving the Lord Poulett paper too - nice touch.
There was only one thing that was ever in the running on the Mains for me: Stilton and thyme bread and butter pudding, pickled beetroot puree and braised red onion, and wow... more Vegetarian dreams right this way! ;)
I loved the inventiveness of the dish (hooray for savoury bread and butter pudding!) and it's a far cry from some of the more traditional veggie fare you usually see on pub menus. Hats off to Phil and the team for deliciously mixing it up. It was colourful, comforting and as a beetroot fan, I never say no to a bit of it roasted! The Stilton, oozing from the middle of the pudding pieces, is making me smile just thinking about it ;)!
Next up, you've already seen the delicious dessert I went for, but Graeme's was just as awesome. If you've got a sweet tooth, you won't want to miss this freshly-baked, giant chocolate chip cookie - brought to the table on a mini skillet and still warm, of course. The smell of the cookie dough, cooked mere minutes ago, hung sweetly in the air and the creamy vanilla ice cream was the perfect partner for this pud of total champions!
2. Service with a smile and a fantastic atmosphere
So, with my taste buds tingling just thinking about the fab food, we've got to give a shout out not only to Phil and his team in the kitchen, but to the front of house guys too - led by Floyd.
Lord Poulett's people are friendly, welcoming and nothing's too much trouble. The pub sits right at the heart of the village, has done since 1680 and we were told many a tale about the history of the place by the fabulous Elisa, who manages the bar and warmly takes care of guests. And, from the origins of the Green Man to the development of local cricket, there are plenty of colourful stories to be had here. In the gardens there's history too, with an old Pelota wall standing at over 30ft high. It's one of only five in south Somerset and was used for playing the game 'Fives'... thought to be the forerunner of Squash.
And, talking of the gardens, there's a gorgeous atmosphere out there. The previous car park was transformed in to a lovely relaxing courtyard last August, and with plants trailing along the sand stone wall, a floating herb garden and parasols out in force, there's definitely something of a continental feel. We could certainly while away many hours drinking in the surroundings (and the wine selection ;)) that's for sure.
And there's Boules (hooray!) so between courses, I beat Graeme in to submission with my finely-tuned Boules skills...
OK. Graeme won by a fraction, probably because I started off by throwing the boules like ten pin bowling balls ;). Anyway, the point is there's a Pentanque piste, it's fun and if you've got kids, there's also a great sand pit area so little kids and big kids can keep out of mischief - one way or another!
The pub hosts monthly supper clubs, movie nights and other regular events too, so keep a watch out for those.
Now, did we say a couple of things make it perfect? Well, let's add a third.
3. It's a perfect spot for a sleepover
The pub is now in the hands of Bramley Bars... the guys behind The Talbot Inn in Mells and The Beckford Arms near Tisbury and the feel of the pub interiors is stylishly traditional. They've transformed the bedrooms and you'll find some pretty lovely ones to rest your bones in. The six are a mixture of light and airy, and wonderfully cosy... and they're filled with home comforts, big beds to flop in to, Bramley toiletries and freestanding baths for long relaxing soaks.
We do love a rolltop and we love the idea of rolling up the stairs and in to one of these, after an evening of fantastic food Lord Poulett style!
Just be aware, there aren't any dog friendly rooms as of yet, but woofers are welcomed in all the areas downstairs and there's water and biscuits for your furry friends too!
All in all, put it this way. If you weren't in the know and you stumbled across it, you'd probably thank your lucky stars you'd found Lord Poulett and you'd return time after time. We genuinely love this beautiful thatched pub and can't wait to go back with our hounds, to try out more of the mighty fine menu. One thing we do know though... those perfect puddings will be pretty tough to top!
Pop by for a top-notch feast with friends, a romantic Summer dinner for two in the courtyard, a chic stay away for couples or families, or a cosy lunch with a roaring fire when the weather draws in.
Our review in three words: Perfection. Perfection. Perfection ;)