A Couple Of Eating Suggestions In Burton Bradstock

Three Horseshoes Pub

We’ve just come back from a long weekend in West Bay. We ate out a couple of times, coincidentally both times in nearby Burton Bradstock. We really enjoyed the two meals so I thought I’d highlight them here.

The Three Horseshoes

It’s only a five minute drive but on a lovely sunny Sunday January morning it was good to walk. There are a few different routes to get to Burton Bradstock. This time we started by walking up the old railway line from West Bay towards Bridport. Then we turned off to go around North Hill before coming down the other side into Burton Bradstock village. It was rather a muddy walk though several fields. We’d spent a while trying to scrape the mud off our boots but a sign saying “muddy boots allowed” when we arrived at The Three Horseshoes was welcome. It’s a lovely old stone-built thatched building (see photo above).

We’ve read good things about the pub and been keen to try it out for a while. However forward planning isn’t our strong point and each time we’ve tried to book we’d left it too late. This time we’d been luckier, although only just, a midday slot available. We sat in the restaurant part of the pub near a fire burning away in the wood burner. It all felt pleasant and comfortable. We shared a starter of bread with tapenade, oil vinegar and garlic butter with a pint and a cider. Yummy.

Three Horseshoes Burton Bradstock Starter

This was followed by the best Sunday roasts we’d had in ages and we’ve had quite a few! Both the beef and the lamb were delicious. They came with a big Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and a good selection of vegetables included cheesy leeks. There was even a jug of extra gravy.

Three Horseshoes Burton Bradstock Sunday Lunch

We were tempted by the puddings but were both pretty full by then so decided we’d  reward ourselves with an ice cream when we got back. We planned to go back along the coast path but it is still shut so instead walked through the golf course. And yes, we did have room for a Baboo Geleto ice cream back in West Bay. Thinking about that Sunday lunch I’m already looking forward to returning to the Three Horseshoes soon, just need to make sure we plan ahead.

Hive Beach Café

Two days later we were back again in Burton Bradstock. This time we drove to Hive Beach for lunch at the Hive Beach Café which is right by the beach. Arriving early we went for a walk up the hill next to the cafe, along to Cogden Beach and then back along the beach. The weather was rather grey that day and the sea looked grey too.

We’d booked into the cafe to take advantage of the Silver Surfers menu. It’s available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, two courses for £15 or three for £20, with a set menu which has a choice of three starters, three mains and a couple of deserts. I think it changes weekly. We thought it was for Over 55’s, one of the few benefits of getting older, but it did seem that anyone could have it if they wanted.

Hive Beach Cafe Silver Surfers MainMy husband went rogue and ordered the sardines main course but I stuck with the offer and had the fish main and a chocolate sundae pudding. The fish was stone bass, something I’ve looked up afterwards and it turns out it is a chunky fish with a huge mouth and a grumpy expression. I was oblivious to this when it arrived on my plate. It was a chunk of mild-flavoured, quite meaty fish. To be honest I find it hard to tell one white fish from another but it tasted nice and came with potatoes, shallots and leeks, plus a creamy puree. I was hungry and forgot to take a photo before it was rather too late!

The chocolate sundae, a mix of ice cream and cookies, was big enough for two. All in all, good value.

So there we have it, we come home pleased with our Burton Bradstock lunchtime choices and happy to recommend them here.

Has this whetted your appetite for a break away in West Dorset? If so you can get more information on staying in our cottage here. Head to our Enquire and Book page for availability, the rates and how to book.

Easter Update 2019

Going up the stairs now...

We had the chance to spend a very long weekend in the cottage at the start of the Easter holidays. A working holiday so to speak as we had a few jobs to get on with. Here’s a quick update.

#shelfieWe put up a new shelf in the kitchen. In the New Year I’d spent a good many hours sanding and waxing an old scaffold plank and deciding which shelf brackets to buy. More fun was deciding what to put on it. Moving the mugs and tea and coffee things to it makes it much more practical when making a cuppa. Do you like the lucky barn star? I couldn’t resist the “Captain” egg timer I saw in a vintage shop too.

Vintage mirrorThe double bedroom got a new mirror. Actually quite an old one, an eBay find that needed a home after my plan for a vintage mirror wall was not met with the same enthusiasm as my own by a certain member of the family.

Oh dear, our wooden table had bad stains on it, we suspect from red wine. Luckily we’d bought an electric sander with us (a Christmas present so I could do my shelf!). So that was sanded and it and the kitchen worktop got an oil too. So did the door step.

The front door got a bit of TLC and a fresh coat of paint.

Graham has the mucky job of jet washing the back paving stones while I had a go cleaning the windows. It was one of the times I’m glad it is only a little cottage!

Big nail!

West Bay Discovery Centre

I popped into the Discovery Centre with a rusty nail. Sarah, one of the volunteers there, had read my blog (hurrah) and wondered if we would be willing to lend the huge nail I’d dug up last summer. During this summer the Discovery Centre is having an exhibition about ‘Shipbuilding in West Bay’. This year marks 240 years since the shipyard was opened. Obviously we would (I was just glad it hadn’t been thrown away). Our nail is going to be displayed in one of the glass cases!

The Cornish Bakery

Eating

We didn’t investigate different places to eat this time but did revisit some of our tried and tested favourites. Luckily when we arrived on Friday evening the Seasider was still open. I’m glad to report their fish and chips are still very good. We found The Cornish Bakery a very handy place to have around the corner when you are busy doing things and don’t want to “down tools” for too long. I can’t resist one of their custard tarts every time I go there. And we met some friends who live in Exeter and had a very nice evening at The River Cottage Kitchen in Axminster. Tasty food and a relaxed atmosphere.The deli looked appealing too but sadly we were off the next morning so had no excuse to food shop.

And that was it for us. Hope you had a lovely Easter break too and didn’t eat too much chocolate? Our daughter got a lot and I think it is calling to me from the kitchen!

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.

Thinking of taking a holiday in this “modern gastronomic capital”? (Incidentally not my words, how a newspaper article described West Dorset.) We’d love to welcome you to West Bay Cottage. Please take a look inside the cottage or head to our Enquire and Book page for availability, the rates and how to book.

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.

Thinking of a weekend break in West Bay? We’d love to welcome you to West Bay Cottage. Please take a look inside the cottage or head to our Enquire and Book page for availability, the rates and how to book.

Dorset Knobs

Dorset Knobs Close Up

With a name guaranteed to invoke much hilarity among children, Dorset knobs are a local speciality. Read on if you are interested in finding out more about them:

  • Originally Dorset knobs were made from leftover bread dough with added butter and sugar, hand-rolled and left to dry in the dying heat of the oven.
  • These days they are still made from bread dough which contains extra sugar and butter. They are rolled and shaped by hand and baked three times. Once cooked, they are roughly the size of a golf ball, very crumbly and rather like a dry, hard breadstick. They keep crisp and tasty in a tin for months. Don’t be fooled by the picture, they are much crispier than a bread roll.
  • It is thought their name comes from the hand-sewn Dorset knob buttons that were also made locally. They have also been compared, in size, to door knobs.
  • In the past there were a number of producers of Dorset knobs. Today the only firm to produce them commercially is Moores Biscuits. They have been making them for more than 130 years. The knobs are now baked in Moores factory in Bridport.
  • The company makes roughly two million knobs a year but only during January and February. The 8 – 10 hour process means they are not economically viable to produce for longer. By the start of March the demand for sweet biscuits has increased again after the New Year lull and the company returns to its profitable and less labour-intensive biscuits.
  • They can be eaten with cheese (traditionally Blue Vinny), dipped in tea or cider, or taken with honey and cream. This is known locally as thunder and lightning.
  • Dorset knobs were a favourite food of local author Thomas Hardy. He liked them with stilton cheese.
  • The Dorset Knob Throwing Festival has been held the first Sunday in May since 2008. As well as throwing them, other knob-related activities at the food festival included guess the weight of the knob, the knob and spoon race, knob darts and knob painting. Since 2017 it has been held in Kingston Maurward College, near Dorchester. Late 2019 organisers said the college had now ended the arrangement and the 2020 festival has been cancelled while they search for a new venue. They insist the festival will return in 2021.

Bag of Dorset knobs

  • Dorset knobs are normally sold in a bag or tin in Dorset delicatessens, farm shops and independent food stores. I think our nearest stockist is Harbour Gifts and Groves Nursery. They would make a nice little present to say thank you to someone who has been watering your garden / feeding your goldfish / looking after your hamster (etc) while you holiday in West Dorset. But be warned, supplies are limited. When they’re gone, they’re gone, until next year anyway.

If you fancy a holiday near the home of the Dorset knob we’d love to welcome you to West Bay Cottage! Please take a look inside the cottage or head to our Enquire and Book page for availability, the rates and how to book.

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 🙂

If you’ve read this and now fancy a holiday where you can eat Dorset apple cake in lots of the local cafés and tea rooms (and who wouldn’t) we’d love to welcome you to West Bay Cottage! Please take a look inside the cottage or head to our Enquire and Book page for availability, the rates and how to book.