North Road, Charlton Horethorne, SHERBORNE, DT9 4NL
Midway between Sherborne and Wincanton, The Kings Arms was first licensed in 1813. While it retains its original grand frontage, the owners, Sarah and Tony Lethbridge, have completely transformed the interior from cellar to loft into a chic country pub and modern restaurant with boutique-style bedrooms. First port of call for most, of course, is usually the bar, where Butcombe and Wadworth real ales, and Lawrence's cider from nearby Corton Denham, all have their devotees. Of the 50 wines, 13 are sold by the glass. Stay in the bar if you're looking for a light snack in relaxed surroundings, otherwise go through a light, airy atrium to the more formal self-contained, Georgian-mirrored dining room, where black and brown leather, high-backed chairs are set round chunky wooden tables. From here, doors open on to an extensive dining terrace overlooking the countryside. The cooking style, traditional and modern British with world influences, results in an AA Rosette awarded menu, for which everything is made in-house, including breads, pastas and ice creams. Starters range from cream of sweetcorn butternut and chestnut soup, to chicken Caesar salad with parmesan shavings. The charcoal grill is kept busy with pork, rib-eye and venison steaks, although there are plenty of alternatives such as free-range Creedy Carver duck leg; pan-fried hake; and beetroot risotto on the menu. Pudding favourites include baked apple and blackcurrant crumble; Bakewell tart with raspberry ripple ice cream; and West Country cheeses. Children's dishes include salmon fishcake with hand-cut chips, and tagliatelle with roasted tomato sauce. A game of croquet in the garden is unlikely to prove too strenuous.