The Club House Is In The Good Food Guide 2019

Waitrose Food magazine Club House

West Bexington’s The Club House is a new entry in The Good Food Guide. September’s Waitrose Food Magazine picked it out as one of the best new entries, chosen on its location. Can’t argue with that, it overlooks Chesil Beach.

Here is the pertinent part of the article in the Waitrose magazine:

Waitrose Food Magazine - Club House Write Up

The restaurant is from the same team as the Hive Beach Café and West Bay’s very own Watch House Café. If you stay in our cottage you might prefer to eat out somewhere within walking distance but The Club House sounds like one to try if you don’t mind a drive. It’s less that 15 minutes away along my favourite coast road.

 

 

A Weekend In West Bay

West Bay Cod & Chips

I was mulling over writing a post with ideas of how to make the most of a weekend in West Bay. A rough plan of where to go and what to do with a bit of a timetable too. Then I came across one that someone had made earlier. I like it. It suggests roughly the same things that I would. There’s lots more that I’d like to try to squeeze in but realistically it’s a good itinerary if you only have two days. I mean the weekend is meant to be enjoyable, not a mad race against the clock. The post has also got a nice little film, which is more than you’d get from one of mine. So rather than write my own post this time I thought I’d share this one with you: Click here.

Thanks to Claire, the owner of the blog. That’s a photo from the post at the top here (picture copyright Weekend Candy).

It almost goes without saying that our cottage is perfect for a West Bay weekend. By arriving on a Friday it means you wake up on Saturday ready for action. This is great as you really should visit Bridport Saturday morning / early afternoon with the market in full swing and Bucky Doo Square at it’s liveliest.

Read about 10 of our favourite things to do locally here.

Dorset Apple Cake

Eating my cake

What better way to cheer up a cold grey day than a slice of Dorset apple cake with, if you like, a dollop of thick cream or custard? Most apple growing counties make some kind of apple cake but the one from Dorset has become the most well-known. It’s a regular in local bakeries and cafés and won a competition to be named the county’s ‘National Dish’ in 2006, held as part of Dorset Food Week that year.

The Recipe

Piddle Valley Cookbook CoverTo use up some leftover cooking apples I decided to bake a Dorset apple cake. What better cookery book to turn to than The Piddle Valley Cookbook, full of “the favourite recipes of the people of the Piddle Valley”? My mum bought it years ago when we lived in Dorset near the valley. That’s her notes in the margin. It’s now a bit dog-eared and you can find it, back in Dorset, in our West Bay cottage.

It has two recipes for Dorset apple cake. The first one looks a little plain. It uses margarine rather than butter which I expect is a sign of its time as the book was published back in 1978. The second recipe isn’t a traditional cake mix at all with no sponge but a bread-crumb, orange, butter and sugar crumble on top of stewed apples.

Interesting, but not what I was envisioning for my Dorset apple cake.

I turned my attention to the internet to find a recipe. Oh my, there are so many different variations. Cinnamon, sultanas or lemon? Wholemeal, plain or self-raising? Mary Berry, Waitrose or BBC Good Food?

A couple of years ago the Guardian newspaper carried an article on “How to cook the perfect Dorset apple cake”. The writer used a variety of recipes and experimentation to come up with her own ‘perfect’ apple cake recipe. But does this make it authentic?

Leakers bakery Dorset Apple CakeThe writer in this article liked best the cake made by Bridport’s Leakers Bakery. He even interviewed the baker but sadly she wasn’t giving away her recipe “handed down and tweaked” since 1914. The photo here is taken from the article and is a slice of the praised Leakers Bakery cake.

The recipe from the Dorset Foodie Family blog looks a good one. The post has a reader’s gallery of Dorset apple cake photos too.

Mixing the cakeI ended up plumping for this recipe, “Greg’s Dorset apple cake“. It’s the one which won the 2006 competition and includes sultanas and lemon but no spices. Here’s a photo, work in progress.

The Verdict

Yum. That’s it in the top image. We’d already had a few warm slices before I thought of taking a photo which, to be frank, wouldn’t win any food blogger prizes. Why didn’t I move the oven glove and put it on a nice plate? Anyway, very nice and lemony, and not a bit like the one I had just before Christmas in the Watch House Café on the beach in West Bay.

So it seems there is no definitive recipe. As long as the ingredients include apples with brown sugar sprinkled on top, then yup, you can call it Dorset apple cake. Do you have a favourite apple cake recipe? If so please share it here by leaving a reply. As for me, that’s enough typing, I’m heading off to the kitchen while there’s still a small slice left. Best eaten fresh – what a drag.

West Dorset – A “Modern Gastronomic Capital”

Dorshi Photo from Telegraph

Did you see Saturday’s Telegraph article about how West Dorset has become a modern gastronomic capital no less?  Read it here if you are lucky enough to be in the area and looking for a special meal. The focus is understandably on the more top-end restaurants but it mentions West Bay’s Watch House Café and Seatown’s The Anchor Inn so they’re not all very pricy. The picture above, pinched from the article, is of Dorshi in Bridport, open since 2016. It’s Asian style cooking, so lots of small dishes, dumplings, noodles, using local Dorset produce. Cocktails too. It’s getting great reviews on Tripadvisor.  I read about it a little while ago and filed it away in my head as somewhere to try to go to when next in Bridport, then promptly forgot about it when I was actually there. D’oh

A Girls Weekend Away

Cork on Table

Fancy a girls-only weekend away? A chance to get together, to chat, laugh, catch up, relax, reminisce and recharge your batteries. A getaway to our cottage is great for just that. I speak from experience as, at least once a year, I’m lucky enough to spend a weekend there with three of my oldest friends (in every sense of the word oldest, ha ha!).

Eating Out – The Blow-Out

Station Kitchen CarriageThere’s not much actual cooking in the cottage these weekends. Nuh-uh. The fridge is full of bottles and nibbles. With so many places to eat out we are spoilt for choice. Decisions, decisions. We treat ourselves to one blow-out meal each trip. It’s been The Station Kitchen for the last two years. Having sat in the train carriage last year we really had to go back to try the waiting room too. I went very retro with prawn cocktail followed by a great steak. My friends were very happy with their scallops and lamb dishes. Sadly we were too full this time for puddings. One year we made the very short walk to The Riverside for a special treat (we did have “significant” birthdays to celebrate). Another time we took a trip to Lyme where we had a lovely lunch at Mark Hix’s place with the views over the bay. We’ve also over the years had great Saturday evening meals and Sunday lunches at The West Bay Hotel. I’ll gloss over the not-so-good Sunday roast we had a few years ago at another local hotel!

More Eating – Lighter Bites

Lunch at Soulshine CafeWe need to fit a visit to a cafe or two into the weekend. A few weeks ago we had a yummy lunch (crab sandwich, mussels and two moroccan chicken salads in case you’re wondering) at the Soulshine Café in Bridport. We were lucky enough to stay dry in their little garden out the back. Last year we raved about Rachel’s (one of the wooden huts at The Mound) for Sunday lunch (sadly not possible this year as you do need the weather to behave). We recommend The Seasider too if you fancy fish and chips back at the cottage, Friday evening perhaps.

Watch House CafeThe Watch House Café fits the bill for a nice breakfast, lunch or brunch on the beach. Or indeed a slice of cake in the afternoon, including Dorset apple cake.

The Cornish BakeryThis year we added pasties to our repertoire, with the new kid on the block, The Cornish Bakery, a couple of minutes walk away in the old Harbour Stores building. A pasty and a Portuguese tart provided a cheap and tasty lunch eaten back at the cottage. I really did have to go back the next day, home alone now, for another one.

Shopping

Another pull to the area is shopping. A wander around the Customs House one time made Kate’s day when she found a vintage book about Richard Burton (she’s his biggest fan). One Sunday we ambled around the Car Boot Sale (Mel is still using her salt pig bargain!). Or Bridport for some proper retail therapy with the Saturday Market and mix of independent galleries, books shops, boutiques and chain stores too.

Things To See

From top of St Marys ChurchEach year there is something different to visit. A food festival at Hive Beach one year. This year the Open Studios event was being held so we spent an enjoyable hour or two  wandering around several of the St Michael’s studios in Bridport as well as the ones in West Bay. It was a Dorset heritage weekend too. We braved climbing to the top of St Mary’s Church with rather a small opening at the top to clamber though, best for Kim the climbing wall enthusiast! It gave us a 360 degree bird’s eye view of the town, down to West Bay and across to Colmers Hill too. Next year the Hat Festival maybe?

Exercise

It’s not all eating and drinking. We walk, a little anyway. Up to Bridport or around West Bay. The stroll along the pier to breathe in that sea air and get that view of the honeyed cliffs. If we are feeling energetic (or to walk off all the food we’ve been eating) we take a quick hike up East Cliff. We’ve walked the other way too, to Eype with the glorious view of the Golden Cap and Lyme Bay in the distance.

Staying In

With the Electric Palace and Bridport Arts Centre up the road you might think I’d mention the shows we’ve been to, the variety of film, theatre, music and comedy evenings we’ve packed into our weekends. Nope, we like to spend time relaxing in the cottage, time just to chill. Open a bottle, watch some DVDs. We did have an eclectic mix of them this year, the Good (The Birds), the Bad (Sharknado) and the Ugly (Machete). Don’t worry, we didn’t leave the DVDs behind!

Sound like your sort of a weekend? Well then, book a short break at the cottage, one for just the girls, and start planning now. Take a look inside the cottage, or head to our Book With Us page for availability, the rates and how to book.

The Anchor Inn Wins Best Pub Award

Anchor Inn Seatown

A lovely walk west along the cliff path from West Bay takes you to Seatown and The Anchor Inn. It’s just been named England’s finest pub by VisitEngland.  We went for a walk there in the New Year when we took this picture. We really enjoyed our meal sitting outside (brave in January). It’s been done up recently and is looking very smart with new terracing to enjoy the sea view.  The chap who wrote this article says it takes two hours to walk from West Bay. We reckon he must be quite a slow walker!