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  • Writer's pictureRhiannon Batten

The menu from... Somerset

Rhiannon Batten reports on a new micro-dining experience that celebrates Somerset's local larder

table at an outdoor dining experience
Outdoor-indoor dining at Horrell & Horrell. Photo: Neil White

It’s surely the closest Somerset gets to the North Pole. Not because we happen to visit on a night when the temperature has dipped but because the barn in which Jules and Steve Horrell and their children, Harvey and Lauren, are scurrying around like cheerful elves is hung with baskets, lit by candles, warmed by a wood-burner and festooned with seasonal foliage. The magical former cow byre may be the setting for Horrell & Horrell, the family’s new micro-dining experience at their home in Sparkford, but if Santa was ever looking for a stylish new grotto it would be a shoo-in.

man and women in dining area
Steve and Jules run Horell & Horell in Somerset. Photo: Chris Bailey
Jules and Steve, who previously worked together at Bruton’s Roth Bar & Grill, have honed their cooking and hosting skills over many years and their experience shows.

Seating just 30 diners at one long table, the approach may be rustic, with much of the menu cooked over fire, but it’s done with real polish. A snapshot of Somerset’s farm-to-fork food scene in three courses, we graze our way through plates of homegrown beetroot with buffalo mozzarella and sesame-sprinkled Persian bread, slowcooked beef brisket with celeriac gratin and cavolo nero, and flaky quince and apple turnovers. Almost all of the ingredients have been grown on site, or sourced from small-scale local producers.

wraps with food on a wooden board
Celebrating local Somerset food at Horrell & Horrell. Photo: Neil White

Delicious and decadent in equal measure, it feels the right way to eat in Somerset, packed as it is with regenerative farms, cider orchards and cheesemakers. Shifting the focus from more formal dining experiences to those that are closer to the farming end of the spectrum creates culinary alchemy in this rural county, where growers and diners are so closely connected.

This ethos reaches its pinnacle in July, when the Somerset Food Trail champions the county’s farmers and producers. Yet micro-dining operators like Horrell & Horrell, Pennard Hill Farm near Glastonbury (which has launched a series of winter feasts made with wild, foraged or sustainably farmed local ingredients), Margot in Bruton and Pomona Supperclub in Frome are now making this more muddy-booted style of eating available year-round.


Follow Rhiannon Batten on Instagram @rhiannonbatten


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