Monday 25 January 2010

The Restorative Powers of The Queens Arms in Corton Denham, Dorset

The Queens Arms

Our bodies and pockets were full of Sudafed, Lemsip, Paracetemol, catahr and reams of tissues. So we decided to shun our bikes and drive the 18 miles to The Queens Arms in Corton Denham, near Sherborne.

Fans of Malcom Gladwell will know what I mean when I say that when we first saw the pub we had a real “blink” moment. Our first impression of this stunning, golden stone pub with enchantingly friendly signs outside wasn’t something we just felt in our heads. I felt my tummy turn, looked at Cowie and felt a thrilling surge of emotion knock my cold clean out of my blocked up head. It seems good pubs have a medicinal quality, that the likes of Glaxo should bottle. We immediately knew we were in the presence of a special country pub.

Water for dogs

We like dogs and muddy boots

But this isn’t just a country pub. It’s a lot more too. Their attention to detail is charming. I loved the way they laid their pork pies out on the bar along with a whole Montgomery Cheddar. I was inspired by their array of local ciders and apple juice. I craved their range of bottled Moor Beers. I greedily guzzled their local ales. And we adored their fire, friendly service and attitude towards dogs.

We wolfed down a pork pie whilst deciding what to have for lunch. The pastry was beautifully crumbly, but we would have liked more jelly and a touch more salt. It turns out that they make excellent thinking food.

Pork pie

So with our brains enriched by pork pie we decided to share a bowl of mussels smothered in merguez sausage and tomato sauce. It was a very wise choice. Like everyone else, I’m a sucker for a good bowl of moules mariniere. But a good bowl is a rarity. Often they tend to miss the mark. So I’m often more interested in trying something a bit different in the hope of discovering something new and exciting. It turns out that spicy lamb sausage with a tomatoey sauce works brilliantly with mussels. It works with chorizo, so why not.

Mussels with Merguez

Still buzzing after our mussels, I was sent out to fetch the dogs from the car – I returned to the pub and the dogs immediately made themselves comfortable in front of the raging fire. They quickly became the stars of the pub and were befriended by numerous children and other dogs who wanted their front row seats.

Fire and dogs

For main course Cowie enjoyed a very memorable aubergine parcel with a spicy three bean stew. Whilst quite metropolitan for a very rural pub, it was full of flavour, beautifully textured and looked exquisite. If you can find a finer vegetarian main course in a country pub in the West Country please let us know.


Sausages and mash looked good. But I didn’t get a look in. So let’s just assume they hit the mark.

Sausages and mash

My oxtail hot pot was very delicately composed but suffered,as hot pots often do, from being a bit thin. That said, it looked charming and warmed my sniveling body to the very core. It was almost as if it had been created as a medicinal restorative.

Oxtail hot pot

We left with a small bill and a huge feeling of satisfaction and warmth. And then roamed off for a sensational walk across the ridge that overlooks the village and beforepopping into a cracking tea room called Bramble and Sage for a slice of cake and a cup of tea.

It was such a thrill to discover The Queens Arms. It’s now in my top 3 favourite pubs in the country and I can’t wait to go back. And I swear that since paying them a visit my awful cold has completely disappeared. If Glaxo are looking for new business ideas for 2010, they might want to consider opening a range of “medicinal watering holes” inspired by the Queens Arms.


Unknown said...

Lovely looking food and on a miserable morning like this I feel positively warmed by that photo of the fire with the dogs in front of it!

Patrick Carpenter said...

Best pub I've ever been to. Only downside is trying to park outside

Browners said...

@Sarah - It's such a comforting sight and thought. It's warmed me up as well. Wish I was there right now.

@Patrick Carpenter - You're absolutely right. The locals will hate me for this post! Parking here is a complete nightmare.

Sam said...

Agreed, great pub, near to where I grew up.

I recommend the steak with oyster and the potted rabbit.

Browners said...

@samhill - You're very lucky to have grown up around there. It's such a beautiful place.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

ain't it great when places actually meet or - heaven forfend - even exceed expectations! Sounds like a great place, and will put it on my list for a Dorset visit, hopefully this summer

Browners said...

@aforkfulofspaghetti - I know what you mean. This place was awesome. Why can't everywhere be this good?

ginandcrumpets said...

If I could climb into pictures, I would climb into these, especially the pic of the roaring fire. Possibly taking the pork pie with me. It looks so good, I am going to have to persuade friends to go there with me.

Browners said...

@ginandcrumpets - It's a very special place. You'll love it. Espcially if you get to sit by the fire.

Hollow Legs said...

Ah, nothing like a good pub fire. It looks great!

Browners said...

@Lizzie - Loving the fire. So cozy. And even better because the food was fantastic.

Naomi Knill said...

I knew I'd read about a cracking pub in Dorset on your blog earlier this year and here it is! Can you believe we've just booked to stay in a cottage which can't be more than 4 miles from The Queens Arms in May?! This will definitely be on our list for a nice leisurely lunch one day...

Paunchos said...

@The Ginger Gourmande - You are in for a treat. Enjoy it. And watch out for the parking. There are loads of lovely walks nearby. And don't miss out on Sherborne and Lyme Regis....


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