Eastbury sets the gold standard for local food

foodmenu-eastburyA QUICK glance at the long list of awards won by the Eastbury Hotel at Sherborne leads the visitor to expect a memorable experience – particularly in the Conservatory Restaurant – and you won’t be disappointed.

The hotel, in an 18th century former town house, is a lovely old brick and stone building with a welcoming atmosphere, and the restaurant, looking out over the beautiful walled garden, is light and relaxing. You want to sit back, enjoy your food and wine, and watch the resident cat stalking the garden birds, or children playing across the lawns.

This is just what you want in a country house hotel – with the added attraction that you are only a couple of minutes walk from one of the country’s prettiest towns, with the historic golden stone Abbey, and a main street full of interesting and mainly independent, locally owned shops.

Head chef Matt Street and his team prepare food that has a strong emphasis on local provenance – a commitment that has gained the top gold standard in the annual Taste of the West hospitality awards.

The Eastbury has also been consistently recognised in county and regional tourism awards – including the “Winner of Winners” in the 2013 Dorset Tourism Awards.


Until the end of last year, Matt worked with Brett Sutton, the Eastbury’s head chef, whose accolades also included Dorset Restaurant of the Year in the 2012 Taste of Dorset Awards. Inevitably the early months of Matt’s tenure were influenced by Brett’s distinctive style but Matt is now developing his own menus with dishes that are fresh, seasonal and full of delicious local flavours.

The commitment to local ingredients is obvious the moment you open the menu, with a welcome from Matt: “We at the Eastbury share a strong passion with our suppliers for homegrown and local produce. With their hard work and a region rich with the highest quality of ingredients, we strive to give you a better understanding of the provenance of your food.”

Those suppliers include Capreolus Fine Food, the award-winning charcuterie producer at Rampisham, Sue Young of Alweston Jam and Chutney Empire who makes the Eastbury’s sour cherry jam and tarragon mustard, Sealy Game in Wiltshire, eggs from Silverthorne Farm at Milborne Port, Castlemead chicken from Radstock, Oxford Sandy and Black pigs from Halstock, poll Dorset lamb from Bridgehampton (supplied by Parsons, Sherborne’s traditional butchers), and herbs and edible flowers from the Eastbury’s own garden.

Taking refuge in the Conservatory Restaurant from another of the recent stormy days, we enjoyed a delicate miniature soup of sweet potato with ginger, soy sauce and puffed rice, while we chose from the lunch menu, which includes several of the Eastbury Classics which you will find on the a la carte.


I opted for the caponata, with Kalamata olives, chargrilled sour dough, creamed goat’s cheese and basil oil – a delicious reminder of Mediterranean warmth on a cold November day. G chose the hot smoked salmon with lemon preserve, cucumber, watercress and creme fraiche.

I hovered over the New Forest mushroom risotto with Laverstoke park mozzarella and truffle dressing, but couldn’t resist the lure of Capreolus’ Rampisham chorizo, so went for grilled mackerel with the chorizo in tomato sauce, pink fir apple potatoes and salsa verde – not subtle flavours, obviously, but an exciting combination in which the elements were all distinct and delicious.

G’s Castlemead chicken, leeks and Sherborne bacon with celeriac and rosemary dauphinoise was an excellent combination, fresh and well-matched.

We like to be thorough when we write about a restaurant so of course we left room for pudding – with G indulging her passion for salt and caramel with the chocolate parfait, caramel and salted peanuts, while I chose the rewardingly tart apple and blackberry compote with cinnamon crumble and vanilla ice-cream.

Prices for food of this quality are very reasonable – two courses with a glass of wine for £20, or three courses (excluding wine) for £20. We both decided to have sparkling elderflower but the wine choice included a Tierra merlot from Chile, a Chilean Tierra sauvignon blanc, Sherborne Castle Estates rose or a Vendange white zinfandel from California.


If you fancy the tasting menu – and we certainly recommend it, if you have the time (and ideally can stay over in one of the comfortable bedrooms), there is an optional extra of a wine flight, with a prosecco from Friuli to accompany the amuse-bouche, rioja Tempranillo with the terrine of ham hock, a New Zealand sauvignon blanc with White Lake goat’s curd and beetroot cannelloni, Barbera d’Asti with charred mackerel and caponata, a Burgundy with the chicken and celeriac dauphinoise, Elysium Black Muscat from California with the pudding and port with cheese.

The Eastbury is a lovely and popular venue for weddings and an ideal base for exploring Dorset and Somerset, warm and welcoming whatever the weather!

Fanny Charles