National Trust Tea Rooms and Garden: Good place to visit after seeing Corfe Castle.
You can find the Tea Rooms in the town square in Corfe Castle close to the castle entrance.This is a pleasant place to visit after looking around the village and the castle,here you can either sit outside in the garden with views onto the castle,or if the weather is unkind go inside .
A good selection of food is available,all from locally sourced ingredients where possible.This includes such things as home made soup of the day,ploughmans lunch,filled jacket potatoes,sandwiches as well as Dorset clotted cream tea a range of cakes,scones,coffee,tea,wine and soft drinks.
Favorite Dish: The home made tomato and red pepper soup with granary bread.
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Mortons House Hotel: A special evening out
From what we saw, the pubs in Corfe offer pretty standard pub fare, so for a treat on our second evening we booked a table at this well-reviewed hotel, and what a treat it proved to be! From our arrival and pre-dinner drinks in the lounge, to our after-dinner drinks in the same place, the whole evening was a real pleasure. Staff were attentive, bordering on over-the-top, but their friendly manner just won out over their formal French training. The setting, in this beautiful 16th century Elizabethan manor house, was picture-perfect. And the food was absolutely excellent. Of course all this came at a price, and the final bill was high compared with what we’d have paid anywhere else in the village, but to us, used to London prices, seemed reasonable value for what we got.
Favorite Dish: When we were shown to our table we were offered the chef’s amuse bouche, a small cup of white onion soup drizzled with chorizo oil – delicious! With this and our starters we had home-baked bread flavoured with tarragon (we could also have had black olive and rosemary, or small brown rolls).
As a starter I chose the fennel and watercress risotto with a small red mullet fillet, which was really delectable. Chris had a goats cheese and shallot tartlet, which was equally successful. My main course was roast guinea fowl, served with savoy cabbage, lentil puree and confit potato. Again this was excellent, though if I may be allowed a very small criticism, I would have liked more of the wonderful lentil puree and would happily have traded some of the very generous portion of meat. Chris enjoyed a rather odd but successful dish which included curried potatoes and a deep-fried egg (sounds weird but apparently it worked!) He followed this with a selection from the very comprehensive cheese trolley, which he’d been eyeing ever since we first arrived in the restaurant. I tasted a couple of these too, and as strong, smelly cheese lovers we were both enthralled! My own dessert was wonderful – a “carpaccio of pineapple and basil, with a lime and kaffir leaf sorbet”. This was stylishly presented, and managed to look and taste decadent while actually being pretty light. In fact, the whole meal was generous without being too filling, and we squeezed in a coffee and a couple of petit fours each, before retiring to the beautiful wood-panelled bar for a digestif to round off an excellent evening.
This much pleasure didn’t come cheap, needless to say. We paid £79 for two for the food, and managed to spend an additional £50 on wine, water and bar drinks before and after the meal. In my view we got reasonable value for that however, as the food really was excellent and the whole evening a real pleasure from start to finish.
- Food and Dining
Castle Tea-rooms: Pretty garden with a great view
After visiting the castle one morning, we went to the tea-rooms right by the entrance for coffee. We sat in the pretty garden and enjoyed an excellent view of the castle. The coffee was good (I appreciated the fact that you can choose from a regular or strong brew) and Chris enjoyed his mug of hot chocolate too. I was seriously tempted by the delicious-looking cakes on display but managed to resist as I’d promised myself the treat of a cream tea later in the day! However, these seemed to be being appreciated by several people nearby so I will stick my neck out and recommend them on that basis. The tea-rooms also offer light lunches such as sandwiches, salads etc.
Bankes Arms: Fairly ordinary
On our first evening in Corfe we wandered into one or two pubs, before settling on the Bankes Inn as the place for dinner, based on its reasonably varied menu and a pleasant space in which to sit. What we got here was, perhaps not surprisingly, fairly typical pub fare, with a few nice items and the rest fairly ordinary but acceptable. So, my starter of crab and avocado tian was light and fresh-tasting, but I was a little disappointed with the rather tasteless baked cod that followed it, though the blue cheese dauphinoise potatoes that accompanied it were more successful, as were the courgettes (cooked just right, rather than to a pulp!). Chris’s “chicken liver parfait” appeared to be shop-bought paté, albeit quite an tasty one, and his trio of assorted sausages all tasted pretty similar, but pleasantly so, while the accompanying mash was good, as was the gravy. We washed these down with the local brewery’s special, and paid £39 for the food bill – not expensive, but not great value, and my main course in particular, at £14.95, seemed dear for what I got. Personally I felt we had better value the next evening, at Mortons House, when we paid twice as much but got probably four times the pleasure!
The pub itself is a beautiful old building on the east side of the village square, dating from 1549. I liked the huge old fireplace and can imagine that it would be particularly cosy in wet or cold weather. But the décor is dull and more old and old-fashioned than it needs to be, even respecting the age of the building itself.
Bankes Arm Hotel: Know your British pub etiquette.
A bit more substantial than pub food, I think (I only got to go to one other real pub, which was a bit fancier than usual I think, too), but nothing fancy. Special because it is a real pub and because I had no idea how things work in a real pub.
Hungry after spending so much time exploring the castle, we sat down at a table, looked at the menu, and then chatted while waiting for the waiter who was standing at the bar to come take our orders. After a very long time, during which we would glance expectantly at the waiter, we were about to give up on getting service. Finally, he noticed our mounting frustration and asked if we wanted to eat. Well yes we said, which prompted him to explain, probably for the millionth time, that people customarily go to the bar and place their orders with the barkeep rather than expect table service.
Apologies were made all around and our order taken. The meal was fine, though I can't remember what I had now, but I think it is in my notes that are packed away at the moment. I do remember that I ate too much and regretted it because I wanted to save room for dessert at a tea house, but more on that later.
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