The Five Dials, Horton
A Somerset country pub with sunny food, a warm welcome and a Mediterranean suntrap patio garden. It's beginning to feel a lot like summer.
In the village of Horton, near Ilminster, close to the Somerset/Devon/Dorset borders and on the edge of the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Nice.
Down-to-earth, unpretentious and family-owned village pub – contemporary rather than olde worlde – with neutral décor, scrubbed wooden tables and fresh flowers.
Inside, a large sociable space that fills up with locals and lunchtime visitors, all of whom receive a genuinely warm welcome.
Outside, cyclists on a pitstop preferred tables out front on the road with their bikes but we couldn’t resist the lush and leafy suntrap patio garden, full of flowers, grape vines and a fig tree.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The large and enticing menu utilises fresh, local ingredients in imaginative ways by chef Simon, with fish a speciality and Italian influences at work. Starters: New Cross Farm asparagus, lemon aioli, crispy hen’s egg and chorizo (as recommended by the charming Miriam from Slovakia), was as delightful as it looks in this photo.
Delicious home smoked pigeon breast, shaved beetroot and focaccia crouton.
To follow, herb crusted salmon, wild garlic and spinach risotto with a parmesan crisp.
Pan fried whole plaice with broad beans, parmesan and rocket salad, with wild garlic and herb butter – and terrific triple cooked chips. All washed down with a glass of Italian rose and a pint of local Otter Bitter. There’s an emphasis on West Country beers, ales and ciders, with 21 different kinds of gin and a carefully chosen wine list.
#Dessertsagram: rhubarb parfait, orange mascarpone, honeycomb and poached rhubarb.
Vanilla and apricot crème brulee with apricot sorbet and almond biscotti.
Not got a sweet tooth? There’s a good selection of West Country cheeses – Bath Blue, Black Cow, Michael’s Mount, etc – to be enjoyed with a sip or two of Julian Temperley’s speciality cider brandy, Somerset Pomona.
Six en suite rooms, each named after local roads. Four doubles, a family room with double and single beds and a larger suite with separate double bedroom and its own kitchen. All tastefully decked out in pale colours, wooden furniture, sofas and lighting with TVs, WiFi, tea and coffee, etc. The breakfasts are said to be phenomenal.
OUT & ABOUT
Lots of walks on the nearby Blackdown Hills. Cyclists: you’re not far from the Wessex Way Cycle Route 33 from Chard to Ilminster and then northwards all the way up to Bridgwater. A spot of shopping amongst the independent shops in nearby Ilminster, a visit to National Trust’s Barrington Court or a jaunt down to the Jurassic coast – about 40 mins away.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: A day out on bikes or on foot followed by a good meal in a relaxed and super-friendly atmos. Worth a trip on a sunny day to bask in the suntrap beer garden and pretend you’re in the Med. Just off the A303, it’s a handy pitstop en route to Cornwall.
Not for: Don’t rock up on a Monday – they’re closed.
The damage: Very reasonable: Starters: £5 – 9; mains: £12 – 16; puds: £6. Double room from £65.
Opening hours: Tues – Thurs, 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 11pm; Fri – Sunday, 12noon to 11pm.
The Five Dials Inn, Hanning Rd, Ilminster, Somerset TA19 9QH. Tel 01460 55359. thefivedials.co.uk
Photos: Rick Foulsham