SOMERSET-based Butcombe Brewery makes its first foray into neighbouring Dorset with The Castle Inn in West Lulworth, which reopened in March after being transformed into a picture-perfect boutique escape.
Lulworth has long been one of my favourite beauty spots to visit along the Jurassic Coast, so I snapped up the opportunity to review its dinner menu despite it being a little way out of my usual Lyme Regis patch.
Making the most of the lighter evenings and spring weather, we enjoyed a quick walk around the cove before heading to The Castle Inn, just a few minutes away. Having been immaculately restored throughout, the traditional, thatched 16th century pub makes an imposing first impression.
Inside, the new-look bar and restaurant has a stylish, rustic-meets-modern vibe – a relaxed atmosphere for the whole family to enjoy, including the dog, with interiors designed by specialists Concorde BGW.
The professional staff greeted us with a warm welcome and we were shown to our table – a quirky booth in the window, where the table folded back to allow us to squeeze into our seats and watch the sun go down with a refreshing gin and tonic.
The Castle’s website said to expect fish caught just down the road, so I opted for a seafood dinner. Salt and pepper squid to start, cooked perfectly and flavoured with lime, chilli and coriander with garlic mayonnaise on the side, followed by the flavoursome and filling Dorset crab linguine with crab bisque from the specials board, impressively topped with a whole soft shell crab.
My friend enjoyed the butternut squash soup served with sourdough bread to start, followed by a Ruby Red Devon ribeye steak with all the trimmings – chips, tomato, mushroom, Dorset watercress and garlic butter. Of course, I couldn’t resist a bite and it was one of the tastiest cuts of meat I had tried.
We barely had space for dessert but decided to share the lemon posset, served with raspberry sorbet, raspberry sherbet and frozen raspberries – the perfect way to cleanse the pallet after such a rich dinner (and I wasn’t very good at sharing!)
Head chef Ashley Walcott leads the kitchen team, bringing a wealth of experience and culinary flair to the Castle Inn, having previously worked under celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck restaurant in Bray.
His varied menus at The Castle – from pub classics to fine dining, plus Sunday roasts – change daily, using the freshest, seasonal produce as locally-sourced as possible. At the bar, Butcombe offers a selection of cask ales ciders and quality lagers, as well as a well-curated wine list.
Upstairs, The Castle offers 12 individually-designed bedrooms with each named after a famous Jurassic Coast landmark and filled with unique touches. The accommodation ranges from cosy doubles starting at £75 a night to family rooms, with six also being dog friendly.
Those staying the night will get to enjoy a hearty breakfast in the morning, with the menu offering creative twists on the classics – so tempting I was a little miffed I couldn’t stay the night!
With free parking for guests and diners, and a garden with stunning views stretching across the Isle of Purbeck, The Castle Inn provides the perfect base for a relaxing getaway on the Jurassic Coast.
For further details, visit the website http://castleinn-lulworth.co.uk