Sunday, 20 October 2013

Restaurant Review: Clavelshay Barn

Food reviews do not usually start with the dessert course but the Apple & Blackberry Crumble at Clavelshay Barn near North Petherton struck a note as the blackberries were only picked from the local hedgerows during the afternoon.

That sums up Clavelshay really – the fresh nature of the local produce really does jump off the plate at you. The end of evening sweetness also included the offer from the waitress to walk us to the car under the shelter of her umbrella. This venue radiates charm, hospitality and a real love for food……and the customers that devour it.

Autumn brings curling up on the sofa with your favourite dishes for dark evenings (the food ones I mean) and Clavelshay Barn is a home from home in this regard. Ham Hock & Apple Rillette with Black Pudding & Paprika Tomato Chutney along with Lobster & Crab Salad started things off – again, fresh and light throughout and a true signature from the talented head chef, Guy Horley.

The four of us tested the mains thoroughly – Rib Eye Steak was perfect and with interesting accompaniment – white bean & fennel casserole with lemon and sage oils – this worked really well, a nice change from onions, chips and peas – and a better testament to the beast, the restaurant being alongside a working farm. Pumpkin Risotto and Trio of Pork came a close second to the evening winner, Pheasant Kiev – a range of tastes and textures on crushed swede with smokey bacon cabbage and Madeira jus. Tastes of the countryside – in the countryside.

There is an ongoing series of workshops at Clavelshay Barn including Cheese Making and Food Photography as well as a forthcoming Christmas Wreath Making Workshop. Events also run strong with wine tasting and music nights – the latter growing in prominence. An impromptu beautiful acoustic guitar performance from one of the waitresses, Camilla, easily beat my subsequent ramshackle thumping of Sue Milverton’s keyboard – Sue’s love of art and photography underpins the creative ambience here, alongside the stunning ongoing art draping the walls – currently and aptly, a high impact cow themed range by Jackie Spurrier ‪@cowsoncanvas

Clavelshay Barn
01278 662629

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Jools Holland - Sherborne Castle

It's the slightly manic grin that walks on stage first, followed by the rest of Jools Holland and his R&B orchestra. He's a showman fronting some prodigious talent, hard work and excitement at being on stage. His piano playing is so dextrous that I feel like giving up ever playing again. The R&B engine gets into gear with several warming numbers before Louise Marshall, superb vocalist gives a poigant slow blues interlude dedicated to Amy Winehouse. Ironically, this was ruined for us due to some drunk ladies being ignorant. The pack a picnic and party advice does come at a cost. In Vivary Park Taunton two years ago it was the gents needing bouncer 'assistance' to make an early exit. Sandie Shaw gave an interesting 60s meets Jools interlude starting with Love Me Do. I liked her Puppet on a String, slow groove and winsome, although some did not. I heard she doesn't like singing it and her approach was constructive. She was fun, her attire looking like some curtain offcuts from a bin out the back of Fine Fabrics. The funky shorts seemed to be deliberately barking. Like Jools, part of Ruby Turner's anatomy arrives on stage before the rest of her, and as usual, she gave a thunderous vocal performance. It's all a great formula.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Brewer's Arms South Petherton

With so many weddings in July and August, you would think that publicans would be switched on to anniversary lunches and open Monday lunchtimes during the summer. We needed to celebrate our first on Monday - Feast, Ilminster - closed (infuriating place to make contact with, will lose patience soon), George in Seavington - closed, Over Stratton - closed - so we chanced upon the Brewer's Arms. Bar had aroma of the gents loos so we turned left (like on a 747) into the restaurant, slight mexican decor. There's a 2 course deal some lunchtimes, the carrot and ginger soup was too salty which eclipsed any ginger/carrot experience. Steak and Ale pie was excellent, veg a bit drab. It was the wrong choice for a hot day (my fault), should have tried the rump steak or chicken/chorizo salads. Fishcakes on salad was chosen by the beloved who liked it. Worth going back to check the full evening menu, which if I was not so tight we would have done for this anniversary.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Yeovilton Air Day

The tension began to build as we sat in the stands waiting, anticipating the roar and vibration of the ground. Thousands of people glaring into the clouds. Then as expected but better, the red white and blue thundered across the sky, sending powerful shockwaves throughout the air. The red arrows were just one of the many highlights of the yeovilton air show this year. Helicopters doing tricks never thought imaginable, a Russian jet which quite literally mad the ground shake. Britain’s most high tech aircraft technology and engineering, all in one place. It was hard for the air show to propel past the absence of the patriotic Harrier, but in my opinion, I think they did great. I did not think of the plane once during the show and was admiring all of England’s past aerial achievements’. Such as the Vulcan, which I will describe as the shadow of the sky, and I’m glad it was impressive, since it did cost around £8 million to restore.     By Hugo Lagnado

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Cosy Club Taunton

Not that cosy actually, few soft furnishings, slight warehouse feel makes it more clattery and noisy. But it's popular and a nice way of using an old building in Corporation St. in Taunton. There's a long bar with plenty of space in front so it doubles really as a bar/restaurant. The floor below street level includes a private hire room - very nice. Food; it was a quick lunch. Panini was slightly overdone, cod was quite poor - slightly leathery, there's much better elsewhere. The chicken and chorizo salad was excellent, although the saute spuds came with their skins on. Worth a revisit but you need to consider the occasion. It's too noisy for an effective business lunch as you wont hear the delicate price negotiations of your client (possibly a good thing?). It's not really a romantic food destination either. It's more along the lines of busy atmosphere, with food on the side. It's open all day every day which adds to the transient feel.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Bath and West Show

The gripes about whether the Bath and West Show (I know I suppose I need to put Royal in front of that) - ok the RBWS, has any 'farming' feel have been going on as long as I can remember. I think it's a side issue. Yes, there are fewer agricultural machinery suppliers but these have been replaced over the years by the huge array of food and artisans. Perhaps really this is better for agricultural marketing - the end-user or consumer is king, if farmers need to choose a new combine, then there are better ways of doing it. Artisan bread for example, well marketed, provides the demand for their wheat. In this way, the countryside is perhaps more inclusive.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Exhibition at Churchgate Gallery, Porlock

Ways of Seeing
An Exhibition by Three West Somerset Artists
Rob Heard- Bough Houses - These magnificant structures stand up to 2 metres tall- First public showing
Toni Davey - Paper Works - Drawings, paintings and paper cuts- Currently also  exhibiting in a major show in London
Paul Askew - Paintings - All work is in black and white - Debut Exhibition
Runs from May 29th - 12th June
Open from 10.00am - 5.00pm daily
Please check website for further details
Churchgate Gallery
High Street
TA24 8PT

T:01643 862238