10 great places for food & drink in Wimborne Minster - restaurants, shops, cafés and more
PUBLISHED: 15:22 08 October 2015 | UPDATED: 17:22 08 October 2015
Wimborne Minster is so much more than a gorgeous historic market town. It is also home to some of the best food and drink in Dorset and with this in mind Sue Quinn shares some of her favourite gourmet haunts
The kitchen star here, Greg Etheridge, won Dorset Magazine’s Chef of the Year in the 2014 Food, Drink & Farming Awards – and this smart little eatery in West Borough is a finalist in the Best Restaurant category at this year’s awards. Etheridge takes the best local ingredients he can find and works his magic, turning them into modern classics with skill and flare. Pressed ham hock, soft-boiled duck egg, pea yoghurt and Jersey Royal potato crisps for starters? Yes please. Maybe follow with the famous plancha-seared Chateaubriand for sharing, and then a cheesecake-stuffed summer pudding? There are lots of veggie choices too. Really quite beautiful guest bedrooms, decorated by local company Farrow & Ball, are available for those who prefer to just roll up the stairs rather than all the way home after feasting.
9 West Borough, Wimborne Minster, Dorset BH21 1LT 01202 887557; number9wimborne.co.uk
La Vie En Rose
With its red-tiled floors and baskets spilling over with fresh baguettes and pastries, this little café and bakery is a charming French oasis in the middle of the bustling town centre. The menu is split into two – one English and one French – but the continental offering is what gets my taste buds excited. Croque Monsieur and Madame, tartine with fried or poached eggs, crepes and omelettes stuffed with all manner of good things, and a wicked selection pastries baked fresh every morning – it’s all there to bring out the Francophile in everyone. Send the children upstairs to play with the toys while you read the paper and pretend you’re on holiday in France. Make mine a chocolate éclair with an espresso.
83 High Street, Wimborne, BH21 1HS; 01202 880033; lavieenrose-shop.co.uk
The Tap House
This small independent micro pub specialising in real ales and cider is a little bit special, earning the CAMRA (Campaign For Real Ale) seal of approval for its efforts and winning it the accolade of East Dorset CAMRA Pub of the Year in 2014. The owners, who opened the business in 2013, are passionate champions of Dorset’s microbrewers, such as Sixpenny Brewery, Cerne Abbas Brewery, Sunny Republic and Eight Arch, and they also hunt out the best national ales. The ale menu constantly changes, but what’s available is chalked up on a blackboard along with details of each ones style and origin – most are served straight from the barrel. For non-ale lovers there’s cider, wine and soft drinks. There’s no food, no booming music (though there is live music on Sundays from 3-6pm), no live sports on huge TV screens – just a cool, friendly vibe, quick service and delicious craft ales. Well behaved dogs welcome.
11 West Borough, Wimborne, BH21 1LT; 01202 911200; thetaphousewimborne.co.uk
The Tickled Pig
The owners of this fabulous restaurant, Jez and Niki Barfoot (Jez was a BBC Masterchef quarter finalist in 2010), have recently expanded their business to include a café and deli, so deliciousness is more firmly on the menu than ever. With their ethos of ‘taking food back to its roots’ and keeping it local, they grow as much of their fruit and veg as possible in the kitchen garden, and are now raising pigs in partnership with High Mead Therapeutic Farm nearby. In the Michelin recommended restaurant carnivores can devour boards of home-cured meats, 12-hour hot-smoked brisket, pork belly or beef burgers, while fish fiends will love dishes like shellfish thermidor, whole Purbeck crab with saffron and garlic mayonnaise, and gin and maple cured trout with pickled vegetables. The downstairs deli sells yummy stuff like charcuterie, pickles, fresh micro herbs (grown by them), eggs and milk. If you’re thoroughly inspired by what you see, then book one of their highly regarded cookery courses.
26 West Borough, Wimborne, BH21 1NF; 01202 886778; thetickledpig.co.uk
Famous Hedgehog Bakery
Just a picturesque 20-minute drive from Wimborne, this lovely bakery (formerly known as the Long Crichel Bakery) is a bit of a secret foodie gem in the middle of stunning Dorset countryside. Swing by to pick up a loaf of their famous bread and catch a glimpse of the bakers in action – the loaves are straight out of the oven so they don’t come any fresher. You’ll generally find a good range of sourdough and other yeasted breads available, but if you’re lusting after a particular loaf, ring ahead the day before and they’ll make it for you. It’s also worth checking their website for details of their fantastic bread-making courses.
Long Crichel, Wimborne, BH21 5JU; 01258 830852; famoushedgehogbakery.co.uk
The Squash Court General Store and CafÉ
This tucked-away idyll is part of Deans Court, a sublime country house that dates back to the 8th century. The café is a quirky mix of vintage tables and chairs, mirrors, paintings and bits and bobs. But best of all, all the fruit and veg for the menu is grown in the walled kitchen garden (the first organic garden in the country to be accredited by the Soil Association), just a wheelbarrow’s push from the café. Choices hinge on the season and what’s been picked but are always simple and delicious – maybe purple sprouting broccoli or sticky onion and cheddar quiche, or Serrano ham or avocado and halloumi salad. If you don’t save room for a wedge of their wonderful cake you’re bonkers. Afterwards take a stroll around the general store – a converted 1930s garage – and the main house and gardens.
Sweet little holiday cottages are available to rent on the estate if you feel like moving in here, which of course you will.
Drool alert. One look at the cake selection at this licensed restaurant and tea rooms and I’m a goner – this is what a traditional slap-up afternoon tea is meant to look like.
Choices might include toasted tea cake, bakewell tart, triple chocolate brownies, coconut and raspberry sponge, lemon drizzle cake, Dorset apple cake, caramel slice, cream teas …get the picture? Fans, including loyal bands of locals, also flock here to gobble up traditional breakfasts and light lunches. Everything is cooked in-house, staff are on the ball and welcoming, and the ambience is great (it is by a stream and close to the magnificent Minster). What’s not to love?
40 East Street, Wimborne BH21 1DX 01202 88059
This smart pub is in a superb location just 10 minutes drive from Wimborne – perfect for a quick country yomp and a bite to eat. Scrubbed pine tables, tasteful paint palettes, freshly cut flowers and antique bits and bobs make for a snazzy ambience but actually this is a laid back place to enjoy a meal. The menu constantly changes, but options might include cockle popcorn with vinegar and white pepper to nibble, followed by king prawns with garlic and Chablis wine butter to start. Mains include hearty pub grub like slow roasted pork belly, local venison burger and aged sirloin steak with roast mushrooms, chips and Dorset watercress.
West Street, Shapwick, Dorset. DT11 9LB; 01258 857269; anchorshapwick.co.uk
It’s a good sign when a food joint expands into larger premises – and such has happened to this incredibly popular eatery. Serving authentic Indian and Nepalese food, it’s so much more than your average mop-up-the-lager curry house. The menu includes all the usual favourites but also many unusual dishes too. Try the momo (Nepalese-style lamb dumplings with traditional chutney), Goan fish curry, Ghurka-style pork cooked with baby spinach and spices, spicy coastal halibut served with fenugreek sauce and kedgeree, or a side of spiced chickpeas. There’s a gorgeous selection of breads – I’m yearning for the Peshwari naan with coconut and raisins.
4 West Street, Wimborne, BH21 1JN; 01202 884321; rimjhimwimborne.co.uk
Burger House 21
A newbie in town, this gourmet burger bar on Church Street has quickly won an enthusiastic following with its quality burgers, free range chicken wings, ice cream sundaes and craft ales, all sourced from local suppliers, including Wimborne butcher Paul Keating. It’s not a new formula, of course, but it’s executed well. I love the Dorset Blue Frickleicous Burger – a beef patty with meat sourced from Kingston Lacy, topped with frickles (that’s fried pickles if you didn’t know) and blue cheese, in a brioche bun. The sharing platter is also lush: wings, olives, chilli nachos, onion rings and a bottle of house wine/beer. Plans are to expand the options to include ribs, which the owners plan to smoke themselves. Can’t wait!
9 Church Street, Wimborne; 01202 848445