Church Hill, BUCKHORN WESTON, SP8 5HS
Clean, modern lines within belie the Georgian exterior of this progressive village inn. It sits on the edge of Blackmore Vale in Thomas Hardy's rolling Dorset countryside, classic walking country enjoyed by many of the inn's patrons. With a multitude of artisanal producers on the doorstep, it's no surprise that the bar majors on farmhouse ciders - Orchard Pig, Ashton and guests are among a handful on offer, along with a tantalising range of earthy apple juices. The pub hosts an annual beer festival, always a good indication of a serious attitude to ales. Handles pulling pints from Butcombe brewery in Bristol and regional guests are complemented by a comprehensive range of world bottled beers. The pub's stylish and unstuffy attitude creates a welcoming and relaxing ambience in which to enjoy these drinks. For more of Dorset's larder, look no further than the menu, overflowing with fresh and local produce, ethically raised and delivered with minimum food miles. Light bites in the bar range from pickled beetroot, walnuts and goats' curd salad, to Dorset salmon terrine with roast tomatoes and toasted brioche; and lamb koftas with tzatziki, flatbread and watercress salad. Sandwiches are prepared with home-made bread and quality fillings such as salt beef, sauerkraut, sliced cheese and Russian dressing. Lunchtime classics include griddled beef and Cajun chicken with triple-cooked chips; and wild mushroom strudel with spinach purée, roast cherry tomatoes and Madeira jus. For a dinner treat, try sesame tuna steak, chilli pak choi, baby corn and udon noodles; or ballotine of chicken stuffed with olive tapenade, chorizo and tomato orzo pasta. Round off with salted caramel chocolate torte with cherries.