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Eat, drink and be merry

Where to go for festive dining in Somerset & Dorset this December

10 places to get into the Christmas and New Year spirit with fam and friends. Best to book asap, we reckon….

Plate at The Bird, Bath

Go glam at the chic Bath hotel’s restaurant Plate in one of their outdoor domes, complete with fur throws and baubles. The festive menu includes pan-fried sea bass, and wild mushroom risotto as well as free-range roast turkey and Christmas puds (lunch £28, dinner £35). Christmas Day menu and New Year’s Eve dinner with dancing both £125 per person).

The King’s Arms, Dorchester

The beautifully restored coaching inn’s festive menu includes clever twists on Christmas stalwarts like spiced sprout bhajis with chilli jam plus beef brisket cooked in ale and treacle, celeriac and potato gratin with crispy lotus root, free-range roast turkey, their own Christmas pud and iced choc parfait. Festive menu £36 per person. Separate Christmas Day menu (£85) and a special a la carte on New Year’s Eve.

The Barrington Boar, Barrington, near Ilminster

The dining pub’s really pushing the boat out this Christmas. Throughout December the Christmas Dinner Menu has dishes like slow cooked shoulder of Somerset lamb, creamed potato, chargrilled sprouting broccoli, chilli, anchovies and salted almonds (above), curried Cornish cod, Wiltshire venison, coconut pannacotta and mince pie croustade (2 courses £32, 3 courses £39). New Year’s 6-course tasting menu comes with a welcome cocktail and English sparkling at midnight (£80) P.S They’ve got really nice B&B rooms.

Eastbury Hotel & Restaurant, Sherborne

Start off with a welcome drink in the elegant Georgian townhouse hotel before tucking into their Festive Night menu which includes smoked salmon goat’s cheese mouse, roast turkey, beef and wild mushroom and chestnut nut roast, Christmas pud and West Country cheeses. Dates: 10, 11, 17 & 18 Dec, £45 per person.

Candlelight Inn, Bishopswood, near Chard

The dog and welly friendly country pub puts the decs up and lays on extra special nosh for Christmas and New Year. The a la carte Christmas menu includes roast goose breast, confit leg en croute, goose fat confit potatoes, creamed sprouts, pancetta, cranberry sauce, jus (above) as well as pub faves like steak or cider battered cod and chips. They’re going all out at New Year with a seven-course set menu at £80 a person that starts with amuse bouche and ends with petit fours.

The Grosvenor Arms, Shaftesbury

The chefs have excelled themselves at the former Georgian coaching house, with menus that include Dorset game terrine, crispy Old Spot pig’s cheek, slow-braised venison shoulder, smoked monkfish and apple, ginger and raspberry crumble as well as trad turkey and Christmas pud. Festive menu (£36 per person), Christmas Day menu (85 per person) and a la carte New Year’s Eve menu.

The Inn at Freshford, Freshford, near Bath

Work up an appetite on the Two Valleys Walk and then tuck into something delicious – pub classics and posher nosh – back in the pub. Pigs in blankets with cranberry sauce and roasted salted chestnuts come as sharing nibbles; turkey comes encased in a pastry wellington; plus stuff like venison haunch, hake and Jerusalem artichoke arancini.

The Museum Inn, Farnham, near Blandford Forum

The Christmas Celebration menu looks good with turkey, beef and halibut and Christmas Plum Pudding (£35 per person), and there’s a 5-course Christmas Day menu (£80 per person) if you can’t be fagged to cook, with private dining in former village hall The Shed, which as you can see (above), scrubs up rather well. You can see all the menus here.

The Rose & Crown, Trent, near Sherborne

The laid back pub, renowned for its unpretentious but very good food, has a Christmas a la carte with something for everyone – turkey, goose, monkfish, rib eye steak, butternut squash and confit wild mushroom – a tempting array of desserts, and it looks like Uncle Albert (or Santa) is a regular

The Sheppey, Lower Godney, near Glastonbury

The setting is stunning, out amongst the peat beds and starling murmurations (happening at this time of year) in the middle of the otherworldly Somerset Levels – and the live music, local ales, ciders and fab food eclectic. Their Christmas menu, for groups of eight or more, includes stuff like confit duck leg with cranberry pistachio and spiced beetroot puree, butternut squash and sweet potato wellington, ballotine of turkey and Christmas pudding dark chic fondant. 2 courses £30, 3 courses £35.

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