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Looking for some rural relaxation where you’re also guaranteed top-quality dining? Molly Monroe finds some delightfully secluded restaurants-with-rooms
In brief: Tucked away in a quiet part of rural Fife, just six miles from the home of golf (St Andrews), this restaurant-with-rooms is attracting a great deal of attention – for its warm hospitality and Michelin-starred food.
The lowdown: It may not be easy to get to, but the reward is one of Scotland’s most famous gastronomic destinations. There’s nothing mysterious about the appeal: from the series of small, beautifully decorated dining rooms to eight garden-facing suites – mostly split-level with living rooms – everything has been designed for total comfort.
What’s cooking: Geoffrey Smeddle draws on a fine network of local suppliers, while putting a fresh spin on the classics. So expect home-smoked breast of wood pigeon with celeriac rémoulade, celeriac baked in ash and horseradish crème fraîche, and fillets of lemon sole with poached lobster, fennel confit, new potatoes and lobster velouté.
Cost: From £195 per double room per night B&B.
Contact: The Peat Inn, near St Andrews, Fife, KY15 5LH; 01334 840206; thepeatinn.co.uk
In brief: Set in the beautiful Alkham Valley, not far from Dover, the Marquis of Alkham may sound like a pub but took the restaurant-with-rooms route a few years ago. Now the boldly refurbished premises are more about cuisine than quaffing.
The lowdown: It makes its intentions clear with sleek design and contemporary styling; this is a polished operation aiming for the long haul. While worth a visit for the food alone, it’s a shame not to make it an overnight stay as the 10 bedrooms and two ‘vineyard cottages’ come with serene views and a raft of cosseting luxuries and modern-day essentials.
What’s cooking: Everything about the place suggests high-achieving gusto, and chef Charlie Lakin is on song in the kitchen. Local flavours loom large across his seasonally attuned menus, whether rabbit (rillette and smoked loin), wood pigeon with black pudding, kohlrabi and rhubarb, or brill from the nearby English Channel.
Cost: From £149 per double room per night B&B.
Contact: The Marquis at Alkham, Alkham, Kent, CT15 7DF; 01304 873410; themarquisatalkham.co.uk
In brief: Elegant, timeless, restrained – three words that sum up this Yorkshire gem, a beautifully reworked 18th-century coaching house and hunting lodge in the Nidderdale Valley. A premier-league restaurant, it’s run by Frances Atkins, one of the few female chefs in Britain to hold a Michelin star.
The lowdown: The mix of rustic charm and 21st-century chic makes it a cosseting base for exploring the area. It flaunts its charms with polished wood, gleaming crystal,
a cosy bar, fantastic wine list and every conceivable mod-con in the swish bedrooms.
What’s cooking: Local, regional and homegrown produce is put to good use. Frances Atkins’ style is simple, concentrating on the quality and flavour of the ingredients. Her much-admired signature dish of herb-crusted Nidderdale lamb with mutton pudding, kidney, barley rice and root purée says it all – luxurious, heroically British and contemporary enough to hold the interest.
Cost: From £260 per double room per night for dinner, B&B.
Contact: The Yorke Arms, Ramsgill-in-Nidderdale, North Yorkshire HG3 5RL; 01423 755243; yorke-arms.co.uk
In brief: A fixture
on the foodie scene hereabouts for many years, this out-of-the-way Victorian house wrapped in a lush five-acre garden still feels like a secret. And that’s part of the appeal – it makes for
a weekend of pastoral bliss.
The lowdown: This is a vintage getaway, one where 19th-century polish meets 21st-century comforts. It unites a ravishing vista – a verdant stretch of the Tamar Valley – and 10 supremely comfortable bedrooms split between the main house (two with huge balconies) and more contemporary garden rooms.
What’s cooking: The kitchen champions local produce for its Mediterranean-accented cooking, and well-sourced ingredients shine through in dishes such as smoked eel parfait with seared scallops and curry spices or best end of local lamb with smoked aubergine purée, ratatouille and tapenade jus.
Cost: From £125 per double room per night B&B.
Contact: The Horn of Plenty, Gulworthy, Devon, PL19 8JD; 01822 832528; thehornofplenty.co.uk
In brief: A significant contributor to Abergavenny’s reputation as a foodie hub (the September food festival is one of the best in the UK), Stephen Terry’s pub-cum-restaurant-with-rooms has grown dramatically since it opened six years ago – indicative of its destination status.
The lowdown: A classy, well-oiled set-up it may be, but it has a warm, welcoming heart, and makes a top call for a lively weekend getaway – there’s some stunning scenery on the doorstep. Eight bedrooms come with super-king beds and lavish detail.
What’s cooking: Expect excellent local ingredients and gutsy dishes like pork loin with new season French coco beans, Swiss chard, wild mushrooms, pecorino and dandelion. The ‘plate of chocolate loveliness’ – brownie, mousse, salted caramel sauce, peanut brittle and other goodies – is worth the journey alone.
Cost: From £145 per double room per night B&B.
Contact: The Hardwick, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, NP7 9AA; 01873 854220; thehardwick.co.uk
This feature was published in the summer 2012 issue of Square Meal Lifestyle.