The Ilchester Arms Hotel
The Ilchester Arms Hotel is an enchanting venue that’s as welcoming in the winter as it is on pleasant summer evenings like the one on which we visited. Set in the picturesque West Dorset village of Abbotsbury, a short hop from the Jurassic Coast, the pub provides a great setting in which to relax. Enjoy a refreshing glass of wine in the pretty garden with a backdrop of rolling Dorset hills, or kick back on one of the comfy sofas in the recently refurbished bar area. In winter you can enjoy a board game by the glorious log fire, and dogs are welcome to join in the fun too.
Settled in the dining room we absorbed the menu over a pint of local ale. Seasonal menus ensure that you’ll find the freshest produce year-round, and everything is crafted from local ingredients. Specials such as pan-fried salmon fillet atop sweet chilli stir fry, and spinach, spring onion and pine nut salad proved tempting options, as did classic pub dishes like beer-battered cod and chips and build-your-own burgers. However, I was craving seafood so opted for pan-seared scallops with pea purée, chorizo, bacon and tender pea shoots. The dish was absolutely stunning – the large succulent scallops were cooked to perfection and the pea purée provided a harmonious complement. My partner’s classic prawn cocktail was just as delightful with its flavoursome Marie Rose sauce and fresh salad. To follow, I plumped for an incredible homemade fish pie, packed with chunks of local cod, hake, coley, salmon and smoked haddock and topped with Dorset Red Cheddar. Accompanied by seasonal mixed vegetables, it was classic pub food at its finest. My partner opted for succulent pork belly with bubble and squeak and crisp crackling. I couldn’t resist sampling a bite, and the meat proved to be a tender, flavoursome delight. Finally, we rounded off a wonderful evening with sumptuous homemade raspberry and blueberry cheesecake and a comforting sticky toffee pudding.
The Ilchester Arms Hotel provides that quintessential British pub experience: lovely food, great drinks and a warming atmosphere all served up in the heart of the Dorset countryside.