Tag Archives: Dorset

The Pig On The Beach – Studland, Dorset

The scene was set. Twenty five years of marriage beckoned. The Flame demanded a week of unbridled luxury and decadence. The pressure was on. Sun, sea and warmth was high on The Flames list. Pitched against, was my loathing of the security debacle that surrounds a journey of flight.

Twitter once again came to the rescue. The Pig On The Beach, newly opened in Studland in Dorset, entered the ‘twittersphere’ as did their Food Director James Golding. I was hooked. I set the date immediately. Chuffed with the choice I settled with months to go. Any doubts were soon quashed when the Sunday Times announced that The Pig On The Beach was to be their hotel of the year. The tributes started to flow. Maybe I had picked right after all?

The guarded entrance, the view from room 11, the back door!
The guarded entrance, the view from room 11, the back door!

We floated across to Studland from Poole and wound our way down a narrow track. She homed into view. The Pig in all her glory (it must be a she mustn’t it?) A riot of yellow, cream, straw topped turrets amidst a sea of foliage. We crunched our steed into the packed car park (past the rather fetching bronze Pig, guarding the door). It only has twenty three rooms but it seemed the whole of Dorset was in town! Despite being a Monday lunchtime, the place was packed. Diners crammed the restaurant whilst the post lunch crowd slept off their feed in the elegant lounges. As our room was only ready at three we tootled down to the ‘Bankes Arms’ and swooped in a Purbeck IPA (brewed on the premises) for starters. The four day break was starting nicely.

The 25 mile menu, Purbeck IPA, smoked on the premises salt.
The 25 mile menu, Purbeck IPA, smoked on the premises salt.

We gleefully romped up the winding steps to our No 11 room.  It overlooked the grounds and the Middle Beach of Studland bay, ‘Harrys Rock’ to the right, the fleet of happy, laying hens to the left. Set in the bay window was our very own roll topped bath.  The room was elegance and charm personified. Greys, creams, wood and bakerlite completed the rustic, vintage theme.

The vintage, chic bedroom
The vintage, chic bedroom

Thankfully after our long drive we were booked in for dinner (you have to book the restaurant, just like everyone else!). A rumour went round in the afternoon that a ‘bin lid’ sized turbot had been caught off the coast that morning and was being carved up by the chef. I knew what I was having for my main course! As if to emphasise the ‘localness’ of the food offering, the menu changes each service. If The Pig (and its a big If) can’t grow or rear the ingredients itself, the ’25 mile’ menu lets you know where the rest comes from. Talk about fresh and local. The walled kitchen garden is a riot of ‘greenage’ dotted with the flashes of colour from the fruit and flowers of growth. Its a handsome sight.

The kitchen garden. Handsome or what?
The kitchen garden. Handsome or what?

Dinner is held in the ‘garden room’.  A rich mosaic of tiles (Belgian I believe) coat the floor. Bare wooden furniture adorned with a flush of herbs and shrubbery take away any hard edges. Lit to perfection this is a beautiful place to engage with a loved one and dine. The food and wine helps as well though. Every course was stunning, all brilliantly presented. We munched (over a couple of sittings) through an array of fish (turbot, sea bream, cod) meat (lamb, pork, chicken), terrines, tarts, autumn veg, sumptuous ‘puds’ and glorious cheeses. All fresh and local.

The dining room
The dining room
Sea bream, The turbot, amazing lamb, beetroot tartlet.
Sea bream, The turbot, amazing lamb, beetroot tartlet.
gnocchi with truffle, chocolate tart, cheese, pumpkin pie.
gnocchi with truffle, chocolate tart, cheese, pumpkin pie.

Whilst booking is required for dinner, being a guest does net you a breakfast table. Same as dinner but the light is provided by the glorious sunshine peeping over the hills rather than the retro shades. Breakfast is extra though. A tenner lands you a free rein of the finest collection of homemade granolas, muesli’s cheeses, breads, jams, oils, eggs, fruits and yoghurts you’ll ever need. An extra fiver lands you all this plus fancy eggs (benedict, royale, Florentine), hot buttered kippers and the famous ‘Pig Out’. Sticking to the overriding theme it’s all built by the fair hand of a local herd, flock, shoal, bush or artisan. Such was the vastness and quality of choice lunch was bypassed all the time we were there.

The breakfast table. All you can eat for a tenner!
The breakfast table. All you can eat for a tenner!
Kippers, The Pig Out, Eggs Benedict
Kippers, The Pig Out, Eggs Benedict
The Flames fruit breakfast, dining in style in a morning.
The Flames fruit breakfast, dining in style in a morning.

To try to ensure this vast input of ‘foodage’ was kept in check a couple of good walks were called for. Swanage is a three-mile scutch on the coastal walk. This takes you past the aforementioned ‘Harrys Rock’. A few great lumps of chalk protruding from the frothy waters. Well worth it. And don’t worry if it rains, you can always borrow some ‘Hunter’ wellies and a brolly from reception!

Hunter wellies, elegant and charming lounges
Hunter wellies, elegant and charming lounges

Sadly for us The Pig does not have a pool, however, for a princely sum various restorative treatments for the mind and body can be acquired. A couple of well-kept, outdoor sheep huts set in the grounds provide the relavant privacy.

Local walks!
Local walks!

All in all we had a thoroughly wonderful time. The bright, young, breezy staff set in their pink and blue, ensured all our needs were fed, watered and kept up to speed. This level of pandering does smart the wallet a bit. Each night peeled a further £189 from The Cooktwit coffers, dinner a good £100 and a decent half bot of ‘Chat of 9 vino’ plumbed in at £36 (though there are cheaper options). It was all worth it though.

Cod & quail, The Pig welcome
Cod & quail, The Pig welcome

There are four Pig Hotels knocking about at the moment. ‘The Pig’ brand heads things up while a subtle strapline tells you where they sit. We stayed at ‘The Pig  On The Beach’. I think we will be giving ‘The Pig…near Bath…In The Wall (Southampton)…Brockenhurst New Forest a bit of a seeing to sometime in the future. failing that we will be On The Beach again soon. And so should you!

http://www.thepighotel.com

Manor House
Manor Road, Studland,
Dorset.
BH19 3AU

Tel: +44 (0) 1929 450288

The Cruel Sea – Poole, Dorset

“Catch it, cook it, eat it, sounds a pretty good concept to me”

I stumbled on The Cruel Sea by chance. The flame loves Ben Fogle! and so when he did one of those ‘I love round here’ documentaries I caught site of an ace looking seafood restaurant. The documentary was called ‘Harbour Lives’ and centred on the Dorset coast. I managed to catch site of the name ‘The Cruel Sea’. Its owner, who featured on the programme is Pete Miles. He is a fisherman by trade. His concept is to front a restaurant that offers ‘from net to plate’. The Cruel Sea does just that.

mackerel waiting to be cooked, the frontage. The cooked mackerel.
mackerel waiting to be cooked, the frontage. The cooked mackerel.

It is set, quite unassuming in a parade of shops in a well-heeled part of Poole. It is a good mile from the sea. It is an atmospheric, lively bar and kitchen, serving fish, meat and vegetarian tapas-style dishes. It offers decent wine, European lagers and great British ales. I had a pint of ‘Cruel Sea’ ale specially brewed locally for them.

Cruel sea Beer, Eugene hard at the pass at the rear kitchen
Cruel sea Beer, Eugene hard at the pass at the rear kitchen

We turned in early, just after six. It was already half full, the atmosphere building nicely. It is rustic in style, the obligatory lanterns in the window providing the nod to the sea. A mass of union jack bunting donned the ceiling when we were there. Presumably confirming all the produce is local? The kitchen is open and set at the back of the long narrow bar. I had a quick chat with head chef Eugene and manager Jose. Whilst I was already loving the fish tapas menu, Eugene told me some dover sole and some crabs had just turned up that weren’t on the menu yet. He reckoned I could have some of that if i fancied it. I was gibbering with excitement.

the menu, rustic interior
the menu, rustic interior

We ordered up. We had some bread and humus to start while we picked off the fishy stuff.  Then in no particular order the morsels of goodness started to arrive.  Highlight for the flame was the whole mackerel, beautifully filletted, then baked with a salsa verde (£7). It was superb. Highlight for me was the baked dover sole (£8) which came with a goblet of crab bisque, sensational.

hummus and bread, sea bream, cod and wild mushrooms
hummus and bread, sea bream, cod and wild mushrooms

Other highlights was the tranche of cod set on wild mushrooms with kale and iberico ham (£9), the sea bream with a chamoula sauce (£7.50). The Flame had one nod at meat. grilled chicken with a lovely quinoa salad (£7.50), we also had a courgette and holloumi dish (£6.50) as our casual nod to something green and healthy.

corgette & holloumi, grilled chicken, dover sole & tiramisu
corgette & holloumi, grilled chicken, dover sole & tiramisu

I finished off with the obligatory, homemade tiramisu (£4.95), set on a slate with a swirl of couli. Very nice too.  We had a good chat with the young, buzzy staff who were bright, efficient and friendly. All in all a super night. We cashed in our chips at around £78. Pretty good for a good amount of freshly caught and cooked fish. I love the idea of fish tapas, a great idea. The place was rammed when we left and this was a Wednesday night.Well worth looking out for. I’ll get the crabs and shellfish next time.

The rustic bar, great atmosphere
The rustic bar, great atmosphere

The Cruel Sea
5 Bank Chambers, Penn Hill Avenue,
Poole, Dorset BH14 9NB

01202 736362
hello@thecruelsea.co.uk

http://www.thecruelsea.co.uk