It’s always worth going off the beaten track a little to find something special and in this case that something special is The Holcombe. The Holcombe is an 11 bedroom 17th century Inn (three of the rooms lodges) in Holcombe – a small parish in the northeast of the Mendip Hills. The charm of this place will stay with you long after you leave, facilities include the restaurant area, beautiful bar, kitchen garden and the new outdoor dining space. I was delighted to be invited to the launch of the new outdoor area (PR/ press invite). You have views across endless fields, with Downside Abbey visible on the left and a curious herd of cows beyond the walled area.
The Holcombe is owned and run by Alan Lucas and Caroline Gardiner, both trained chefs who moved here from London in November 2019. They truly appreciate being in the heart of the Somerset countryside amongst the wildlife. Alan explains with zest their passion for food and sustainability and your experience at Holcombe will be garden to plate. Caroline has worked closely with interior designer Annabelle Holland to achieve a calming, luxurious feel with beautiful detailing, paintwork is using eco-friendly Little Greene paint.
The garden supplies the restaurant, they like to grow things you may not see in shops such as sprouting cauliflowers. There is a focus on local suppliers for things like the meat and beautifully vibrant yellow rapeseed oil, reaching further afield where necessary for black pudding from Stornoway in Scotland or truffles from Italy.
As part of the sustainability ethos here you can rest assured that whatever can be recycled will be recycled. Even the used cooking oil is collected and made into bio fuel. The edible hedges are genius, with slow, elderflower, hazel and bramble. Alan is always keen to take guests on a tour of the garden (which includes a 42 foot polytunnel) and you’ll be full of ideas to take home with you, I learnt that not only the flowers of nasturtium are edible but also the leaves which can be made into soup or salsa. The story of the hives at the very back is the garden is wonderful. There are 20,000 bees in each hive and a local lady owns the bees and tends to them, The Holcombe provide the land and the rent is paid in honey.
Now onto the best bit… the food. I took many photos of the beautiful dishes served, so I’ve really had to narrow it down here. To start was a dish that proved popular over the Jubilee celebrations, corination chicken as you’ve never seen it before.
One of the main course dishes was the Somerset sirloin, it tasted incredible, beautifully presented but good hearty food.
It’s always good to try something you never make at home, the souffle and berry sorbet were a delicious combination. The souffle is gluten free made from eggs, fuit and sugar. The Holcombe happily cater for any allergies or preferences.
I enjoyed trying Dunleavy Rose, who knew that there is a vineyard in Langport? There is an amazing selection of gins made on site at The Holcombe too. It was really good to meet John who has been working there for 27 years.
I can’t resist showing you the colourful fruit flavoured gins, elderflower, garden strawberry, seville orange, blackberry, marmalade, sloe and rhubarb.
And to finish this story, I want to show you the artwork which adorns the walls. Each of these vegetables have been grown from seed and hand painted by Simone Smart and each has a story written on the back. I particularly like the colourful carrots.
With thanks to The Holcombe and Kershaw and Company PR for the experience.