Looking for a break to ease you away from the back-to-school feel of September? Emily Eaves checks out The Eastbury in the beautiful town of Sherbourne in Dorset.
There are so many amazing places in England. Every time I discover a new town or village I kick myself that I’ve spent so many years travelling abroad and have neglected my very own country. Sherbourne felt like one of these places – a beautiful town with the most stunning abbey at its heart and little lanes filled with everything from art galleries and coffee shops to market squares and charity shops. It’s a town where you can easily mooch about, wander the streets and find that little thing you’ve been looking for forever.
The Eastbury lies two minutes walk from the centre of this idyllic market town. An award winning, boutique town house hotel it’s truly the perfect spot for a weekend break – complete with lots of foodie fun to be had in their divine Seasons restaurant. It’s a brilliant spot whatever the weather – in summer months you can enjoy the croquet lawn, the walled garden (complete with vegetables used in Seasons) and the outdoor terraces and chess sets. In winter, there are a selection of lounges where you could curl up for days with cups of coffee or glasses of wine and a stack of magazines.
Whatever you do, make a reservation for dinner at Seasons at some point during your stay. Start your evening there with gin and tonics on the terrace or in the cosy bar cocoon. We hit a sunny day and enjoyed our terrace drinks with a snack of Crispy Fried Squid with Aioli and Fennel Pollen (yep, that’s how they do things here). The restaurant has 2 AA rosettes (so far) and produces food that had us oooohing and aaaahing from the very start. Going through to your table, the place feels instantly luxurious with thick padded carpets, attentive service and delicate touches such as the courgette and feta amuse bouche we had served with the teeniest tea spoon.
True to its name, Seasons has a fierce dedication to seasonal produce – not least because many of the ingredients come fresh from the walled garden outside. We enjoyed an exceptional salad made from pea shoots from the garden which were some of the tastiest I’ve ever tried. You have the option to choose from their House Menu (lighter, more familiar dishes) or the A La Carte (beautifully presented, creative dishes) or even the Tasting Menu (ideal for a special occasion with a food lover).
We went A La Carte and I’m still raving about my starter – Devon Crab, Cucumber & Horseradish, Green Apple, Dill Oil. They think about every little detail in this place and our delicious bread basket came with a tomato butter (shaped like a tomato, tasting equally as fragrant). The main courses – again changed seasonally – but the proximity to the excellent seafood on the Dorset coast and the lamb and venison of the nearby countryside make both meat and fish perfect choices. Spoil yourself with dessert – we had sweet teeth that night and I opted for a deconstructed banana split (sublime) whilst he was more than happy with his rice pudding served with a shot of Armagnac.
The rooms at The Eastbury are scattered about this rabbit warren of a hotel. We opted for a dog friendly (surprise, surprise) spot in the more modern extension but everything is of a high quality with beautiful linens, blankets and bathrobes. There were generous touches throughout – from the freshly baked cookies in the jar when we arrived, to the decanter of sloe gin to help settle you in. Sleep deeply and spend the morning enjoying a lie in with the newspapers and fresh coffee.
Breakfast here is served at Seasons and will fuel you for the day – whether that’s exploring the town, venturing to nearby countryside, or returning home and leaving this fabulous spot.
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Images © The Eastbury