Now with a 2nd AA ROSETTE!
THE MENU – it appears we may actually be having a noticeable change of season, so we are starting to put things like cassoulet and tagines on the menu at lunchtime and evenings in the week. Weekends will still feature the Chateaubriand with béarnaise and lardon salad though, it’s been pretty popular and may have become a permanent fixture. Soon be time to light the log fire too.
Sample Menus: Dinner Lunch Sunday Lunch
The Ultimate Sunday Lunch
On the ultimate Sunday* of every month The Pilgrims’ Restaurant hosts The Ultimate Sunday Lunch. A sirloin of beef is roasted to rare perfection, accompanied by roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding, fresh horseradish sauce, seasonal vegetables and, of course, a proper gravy. We think, in all the modesty we can raise, (admittedly not much in this instance) that it is an experience not to be missed. A la Carte dishes are also available.
If we say so ourselves Jools’ skill is in feeding a small number of people with simply wonderful food, in an unhurried manner, and that’s the way we try to make the restaurant run. Our dining guests come here to dine finely - as opposed to being attracted by promises of Faine Daining. A concept which is laudable and appropriate in the hands of a handful of chefs touched with genius, such as Raymond Blanc, but which has been abused and debased by an army of lesser cooks as an excuse for ripping off their customers
With the produce we have available to us the most important quality in a chef is restraint. Let the intrinsic quality work its magic then leave it alone. Bring out the flavours but keep it simple. Our presentation may seem a little stark, not as primped as devotees of Masterchef may expect, but Jools just can’t bring himself to ‘gratuitously garnish’ even if it fashionable.
The best from the ‘Appellation of Somerset’ on a plate
We find the word ‘local’ crops up a lot when The Pilgrims is discussed, not necessarily in the traditional pub sense, although many of our regular diners are ‘locals’ who see us as their neighbourhood restaurant. It’s more that we have become a bit of a focal point for good things produced hereabouts, a showcase for and champion of many of the wonderful artisan crafted drinks and foodstuffs from what would be the Appellation of Somerset, if there were any justice. We’re not fanatical about it, but we are more than a bit passionate. If our food is ‘Inspired’ then this is what inspires it.
This means that our menu is something of a moveable feast - changing at least monthly and often daily - with the seasonal availability of fresh ingredients. Almost all of our vegetables are locally and organically grown. Our cheeses are all made within 30 miles, they just happen to be world-class cheeses; milk and cream come from Olive Farm’s Guernsey herd, a mile away for any self- respecting crow; our bacon is from Denhay’s in Bridport; eels are smoked at Brown & Forrest on the Somerset levels; fresh fish comes direct from Bridport; Jon Thorner sources all our meat from local farms; salads are grown by Charles Dowding and most of our vegetables by a local organic co-operative. Jools makes our bread from locally milled organic spelt and wheat flours. Lovington’s Ice Creams and Cottage Brewing are in Lovington.
Slow Food? Well, it’s certainly not fast food!
With the exception of the ice cream everything we serve at The Pilgrims is home-made. Virtually nothing comes ready made out of a packet. Everything is prepared and cooked by Jools with help from Sally. Whatever you choose will be cooked to order which means that you may have to wait a little longer than we are all used to in this frenetic age. But the table is yours for the evening and although we work as quickly as we can, we assume that you would rather have something worth waiting for than “fast food”.
Families are always welcome to dine at The Pilgrims but, in our own experience, children don’t like children’s menus. So we don’t have one. And some people just have smaller appetites. Most of our main courses can be prepared in a smaller portion, for a smaller price.
As you can imagine this level of commitment has led to the odd award or three. Over the years we have won Gold from Taste of the West FOUR times, (and Silver once, obviously an off day), we’ve been Somerset Life’s Dining Pub of the Year, and Jools won their Chef of the Year. We now appear in most of the serious guides and were ridiculously proud to be one of only fifty establishments in the UK to feature in Alastair Sawday’s book ‘Eat Slow’. Nowadays we don’t often enter ourselves for any awards – they are too much of a distraction. We are rigorously assessed every year by VisitBritain and the AA - achieving Four Stars, a Gold Award, TWO AA Rosettes and a Breakfast Award – which tells anybody what they need to know about us. From a more direct, subjective perspective a lot of guests have been very kind to us on TripAdvisor and our online booking site, Eviivo.