I don’t mind admitting we’re a bit obsessed with finding the perfect country pub and we’ve got some cracking ones here in Somerset. I thought I knew about most of the great ones... but step forward The Holcombe Inn, which could actually be one of the county’s best kept secrets. Who knew that tucked away in the historic village of Holcombe, south of Bath, was an award-winning AA 5 star gem of a hideaway, dating back to the 17th century? Well, the AA obviously ;), but definitely not us until a little while ago when we head here for a visit, a bit of lunch and to explore this gorgeous, countryside, dog friendly retreat.
When we arrive, I get goosebumps. Looking over the green rolling fields, you can spot Bath Abbey in the distance and even though it’s raining, nothing can dampen my enthusiasm. I just know we’re going to love the pub, and the excitement of discovering somewhere new rushes over me. As we head inside, I’ve already earmarked some fab places to sit outside and drink in the surrounding countryside on a nicer day (and take up the chance to chat to the cows too)!
Whether it’s a drink outside in the Summer sunshine you’re after, or somewhere to warm up in the depths of Winter, the Inn has it all... roaring fires, cosy corners, open spaces for larger groups of friends and a great gin selection which, let’s be honest, is a bit of a must! ;)
We grab our seats in the snug corner, next to The Holcombe’s very own coffee bar (love that idea) and as Hope is with us, we get her settled in. She definitely gives it her doggy seal of approval with the biscuits left out for her :).
Even though the place is bustling with the buzz of a full-up Friday pub, the atmosphere is relaxed and really friendly. The weight lifts from my shoulders as soon as I sit down, and The Holcombe team make you feel as though you’re a regular... just love that kind of welcome.
We go for the set lunch today - two courses, great value and some fantastic choices on the menu. The veggie option definitely has my name on it and the Ratatouille Stuffed Tomato, Grilled Baby Leeks, Pesto, Peas, Pinenuts and Raisins doesn’t disappoint. Freshly grown tomatoes from the garden and vegetables cooked to perfection means there are plenty of mmmm’s and ahhh’s from my side of the table!
Graeme plumps for Skate Wing with Mashed Potato, Brown Butter, Capers, Lemon and Parsley and it’s just the ticket for a rainy day - warming comfort food that tastes just as good as it looks. He assures me the fish is 'melt in the mouth' and if our mains are anything to go by, it’s no wonder this gem of an inn is listed in the Michelin Guide and proudly holds the coveted AA stars.
Pudding is always a tough choice when there’s a glut of delicious options... but I’m in the mood for Homemade Coconut Rice Pudding, Pineapple and Passionfruit which is creamy and tangy in equal measure and I come away deciding to definitely try and recreate that rice pudding and pineapple combo at home – although I doubt I could make it anywhere near as tasty as the Holcombe’s! And let’s take a moment to say yes yes YES to the Eton Mess! The Cheddar Strawberries make it one of the loveliest Graeme’s had... and we all know you can’t beat those juicy Somerset fruits ;).
As we grab a coffee from the cool little coffee bar to finish off, we both agree that the food leaves us looking forward to a return visit...
...but for me, one of the things that means we’ll certainly be back is the unique Tranquility Garden that owners Jules and Brad have created. You can tell that a whole heap of love has been poured into planning every corner, every flower and veg bed, and every inviting place to chill out.
I imagine these gardens are a stunning place to relax on a sunny day, but there’s something just as beautiful about them in the rain too and I can’t wait to take in the view on a crisp Winter’s afternoon.
Anyway, if you fancy a sleepover so you can eat, explore the gardens and check out the many fantastic walks in the area too, you’re in luck. The inn has 11 lush bedrooms of all shapes and styles, two of which are dog friendly so your hounds can enjoy it all too.
My favourite room is definitely 'The Roost' at the top of the Tranquility Garden, where you get a bird's eye view of the comings and goings of the beautiful Holcombe doves that were once a birthday gift for Jules.
All in all, whether it's a flying visit (see what I did there ;)) or a longer break you have in mind, The Holcombe Inn is a Somerset secret that won’t stay that way for too much longer and it’s a place we’ll go out of our way to return to, whatever the season (definitely over Christmas and New Year to warm up in front of their fires and we're already planning heading there to watch a Summer sunset next year, as the Tranquility Garden gives uninterupted views of the spectacle).
Our review in four words: A special Somerset secret