The Firehouse, Curry Rivel
Just checked out the new kid on the rural block: the newly opened The Firehouse, a pub and restaurant in the village of Curry Rivel, just a few miles to the west of Langport. Located off the main drag, in what was previously the Old Forge Inn, the old village pub has had a complete makeover in every sense. Come on in and see what’s inside…
When you go through into the reception area and wait to be seated, take note of the sleek, stone-fired pizza and the pizza chefs doing their stuff – you might be having one later.
The place is a bit of a warren with a bar and five separate dining areas as well as an outside space. First the bar. Although The Firehouse styles itself a pub and restaurant, during the day at least, the bar feels more like the sort of place to have a quick drink before eating, rather than a dedicated watering hole. You can perch on one of the tractor stools to watch cocktails being shaken and stirred, or sink into some armchairs for a quiet tête–à-tête.
Each of the five different dining areas has its own name and different decorative theme within the overall look of the place. There’s the Kilner Room (where we ate) …
…with stairs (love the light fitting made from Kilner jars – what else?) leading up to The Library with its book wallpaper and colourful chairs, and onto the Sitting Room beyond.
There are stairs down to The Vault, which has been decked out like a Spanish bodega with a tiled floor and long communal dining tables – looks great for a party.
There are more stairs up from the reception to yet another dining area, the light and airy Hayloft. There are a lot of stairs.
Much care and attention has been paid to the decoration – all the work of Kate, who owns and runs The Firehouse as well as the Living Pretty tea and interiors shop across the car park, and this place has a similar feel. The unusual light fittings are fun.
You don’t need to be told there’s a connection with Sandpits, the nearby wood-burning stove/fireplace business (a great shop, and where I bought my little wood-burner a while back). Not only is there a clue in the name (The Firehouse) but there’s also a stove or fire – some very impressive – in almost all of the rooms. Should be toasty in winter.
The set menu is fairly standard pub fare – a couple of burgers, a steak, a ploughman’s, fish and chips, fishcakes, lasagne, risotto, although all are made using locally sourced ingredients – and of course, the stone-fired pizzas. As a nice touch, they’ve been named after local areas, from the The Levels (a basic Margherita, obviously) through to the Burrow Mump (spinach, marscapone, Parmesan, thyme, with a free range egg on top as the Mump). Here’s Glastonbury Tor waiting about to whisked away to a diner…
The couple at the next table were tucking into huge prawn cocktails (come back Fanny Craddock, all is forgiven) and then some impressive looking burgers. We plumped for a couple of dishes off the daily specials menu, bypassing herb-crusted pollock with ratatouille and black olive tapenade (I’m not sure why now, it sounds delicious) in favour of mussels cooked in Burrowhill cider and bacon, and a white bean and fennel soup. Both were good. The mussels were huge and succulent and served with some skinny fries. I would have liked more of those but then Muddy Somerset is a very greedy girl.
My friend’s huge bowl of soup also hit the spot.
The Firehouse has a nice atmosphere and serves up good, unpretentious food with some interesting dishes amongst the daily specials. I’ll be back with the Muddies, soon: after all, they’ve got a pizza named after our village on the menu.
Good for: casual eating out, families (though I didn’t see a garden for kids to run around), groups of friends, larger parties (as well as the separate dining rooms here are private rooms for hire). For alfresco eating, there’s a little terraced area planted up with herbs, lavenders and box which is growing nicely. With all those fires it should be fab in winter.
Not for: couples wanting an intimate space to talk, fine diners (this is fairly standard fare), anyone who finds stairs and different levels an issue.
£££: Reasonable: pizzas are from £9-£12.50 (kids’ pizza £4); burgers £12; lasagne £12; steak and chips £22. There’s an early bird dinner Mon-Fri 5.45pm-6.45pn with main courses around £8. On the daily specials menu, soup £5.50; mussels £12; mains £14-£24. Glass of house wine around £4. Cocktails £5.50-£7.
The Firehouse, Church Street, Curry Rivel, TA1 0HE. Tel 01458 887447. thefirehousesomerset.co.uk