The pub is as much a part of British heritage as the iconic red telephone box or the double-decker bus. There is no other establishment like it, and Samuel Pepys once famously described the pub as the heart of Britain. Amidst claims that pub culture is under threat, I only ever see it thriving. With the rise of gastropubs and a general hankering for food with a pint, people from all walks of life now make a regular trip to their local.
Dorset boasts a fantastic selection of pubs, from true traditional boozers and country ale houses, to award-winning gastropubs and boutique bed and breakfasts. A walk across the rolling hills of Dorset, or a trot around one of the adorable market towns, is best followed by a pint of ale straight from the keg.
Here are some of the best pubs about Dorset well-worth dropping in on.
Twice named as Dorset’s best pub for food, The Greyhound’s high standards for dining are unrelenting.
This ancient coaching inn has been transformed into a fine establishment serving top-notch food from daily changing menus. Produce is sourced from across the local area, with fish delivered on a daily basis. The pub is situated in the idyllic village of Sydling St Nicholas, and both newcomers and regulars travel from afar to visit. This is true Thomas Hardy country, a landscape of inspiring, breathtaking views. Expect to be blown away by gorgeous scenery and delectable dishes at this gourmet gastropub.
This stylish pub occupies a central stretch of the Bournemouth Road in Poole, and has managed to garner a loyal following in recent years. The Grasshopper is a welcome addition to the Hall & Woodhouse group, and showcases the brand’s ability to get everything right. Diners enjoy delicious food served in a light, airy restaurant, furnished with modern seating and contemporary artwork. The menu is delivered with flair and features all the classics. Choose from hand-battered fish and golden chips, slow-cooked confit duck with green beans, or chicken supreme with buttered mash, to name a few. This venue boasts the perfect balance of a relaxed ambience and fine food.
It is easy to see why this bustling pub is featured in both The Good Pub Guide and the Good Beer Guide 2016; everything you could want from a 21st century pub can be found here. Inside, a very special ambience is created by the elegant furnishings and cordial staff who great everyone that enters. The kitchen is run by award-winning Timothy Butler and Mark Miller, who have much experience under their belts. Though The Kings Arms is predominantly known for serving quality grills and steaks, the menu also showcases British dishes with a touch of creativity. This pub is evidently run by a team of avid foodies.
The Saxon Arms has garnered an award-winning brigade of chefs and county-wide recognition as being one of Dorset’s best dining pubs. Though this may sound like a pricey affair, the pub prides itself on offered quality food at affordable prices. The bar boasts a great range of award-winning ale, wonderful wine and a comprehensive list of malt whisky and gin. All the British favourites are featured on the menu, from fresh fish and hand-dived Portland scallops, to prime English meat and local game. This is a real community pub, and The Saxon Arms has won awards for its services to the local area. Four-legged friends are loved by both staff and guests – indeed everyone is warmly welcomed upon entering.
The Kings Arms is one of those rare places that has a thatched roof, a bar of real local ale, and a breathtaking and historic setting. Honouring tradition in the way that every country pub should, the pub is thriving with a mix of regulars and contemporary guests. The kitchen serves traditional dishes influenced by modern cuisine. Head chef Pete Harrison creates irresistible and unforgettable dishes such as a special seafood casserole and a delectable burger made from a beautiful cut of venison. Diners can make use of the large garden and patio area to enjoy food whilst taking in a stunning view across the countryside.
The Brace of Pheasants is must-visit for real foodies. This fine thatched pub sits in rolling Dorset countryside and is renowned across the county for its exquisite food and warm noble interiors. Visitors travel from afar, fueled by the promise of quality, home-cooked British food and a night’s stay in the luxurious four-star accommodation on site. The chefs make use of local produce found right on the pub’s doorstep. Look to the menu for a range of exciting starters such as roast honey- and lemon-glazed pigeon breasts with caramelised onions and mixed leaves, and mains like confit of duck leg with citrus rhubarb sauce and potato rosti. This pub is well deserving of its Good Pub Guide 2015 Top 10 Country Pubs accolade.