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Four of the UK’s best rural restaurants

Pairing seasonal, local produce with stylish interiors, these countryside dining rooms are worthy of a weekend away

the clockspire restaurant sherbourne
James McDonald

Organise a weekend getaway around one of these road trip restaurants, which serve up style and stunning local scenery as well as award-winning food.


THE CLOCKSPIRE

This 19th-century former school in Somerset’s Milborne Port was sensationally converted last year by London-based firm Studio Indigo, which reinstated the historic floor plan and created a mezzanine level from which to admire the vaulted ceiling. Opened in the autumn, the restaurant is named after the clock tower that locals were adamant should also be restored. Interiors are refined, with polished concrete floors and sprays of dried flowers. theclockspire.com

destination restaurants the clockspire building
James McDonald
destination restaurants the clockspire inside
James McDonald

TRY: The delicate pea and elderflower tart with courgette and English pecorino. There’s also a dedicated vegan menu.

STAY: Papilio Creek is a cosy self-catering cottage with an option to book in-situ spa treatments. Sleeps four, £1,150 per short break. uniquehomestays.com

SEE: Arts space Messums Wiltshire. Clock the similarly spectacular ceiling, and recreation of sculptor Elisabeth Frink’s studio, until 18 October. messumswiltshire.com


INVER

It will come as no surprise that seafood is Inver’s speciality, such is its winning proximity to Loch Fyne. This diminutive dining room, decked out in vintage Ercol furniture, has inspired many a Highland jaunt – and for good reason. Here, nature’s bounty takes centre stage, both on the inventive menu concocted by Noma alumni Pam Brunton and via the pretty shuttered windows that frame the Scottish scenery. inverrestaurant.co.uk

destination restaurants inver
Alexander Baxter
destination restaurants inver inside
Alexander Baxter

TRY: Crab, sourced straight from the loch, served with hot brown butter and sourdough. There’s a tasting menu, too.

STAY: Bed down in one of four charming Scandinavian-style bothies, constructed in 2018, with art and textiles by local artisans. From £205 per night for two adults, including breakfast.

SEE: Local attractions are gloriously few and far between. Plan a walk via the atmospheric ruins of Old Castle Lachlan, just along the shore.


PENSONS

Nestled in the Netherwood Estate on the bucolic Herefordshire-Worcestershire border, Pensons is housed in a pleasingly rough-hewn and timber-beamed barn, which has stood in the same spot since the 15th century. This is farm-to-table dining at its finest, where the lion’s share of produce funnelled into the open kitchen is plucked from its 1,200 acres of gardens and grounds. pensons.co.uk

destination restaurants pensons
Pensons
destination restaurants pensons barn
Pensons

TRY: The menu has been temporarily streamlined, with a three-course lunch and a five-course evening tasting menu. Thankfully, the lamb with aubergine, red pepper and salsa verde features on both.

STAY: There are two historic houses within the estate for large groups (sleeping up to 20), or try rooms above the stylishly revamped Georgian country pub The Clive Arms in nearby Ludlow. From £105 per night. theclive.co.uk

SEE: The Grade II-listed Pump Rooms, up the road in Tenbury Wells, are said to be one of the earliest examples of prefabricated architecture.


YNYSHIR

Something of a cult aura surrounds Michelin-starred chef Gareth Ward and his restaurant Ynyshir. This is surely aided by its remote mid-Wales location, unusual fusion of Welsh and Japanese flavours and, of course, the ever-evolving tasting menu that usually stretches to around 20 courses. It’s had a facelift over lockdown, but the moody-hued walls, chocolate-brown sheepskins and original oak floors remain. ynyshir.co.uk

destination restaurants ynyshir
Ynyshir
destination restaurants ynyshir dining
Ynyshir

TRY: There’s only one option, but it’s a good one: the gloriously seasonal set menu, to which you’ll need to surrender four hours.

STAY: We’d sequester in one of the secluded garden rooms, which have floor-to-ceiling windows and wood-burning stoves. From £400, including breakfast and dinner.

SEE: Ynyshir is a gateway into the magnificent Snowdonia National Park. For those not ready to tackle its eponymous peak by foot, there are plenty of gentler trails – or take the train to the summit.


This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration October 2020

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