Blog

The Acorn Inn was a fantastic homage to Thomas Hardy – with incredible food

“Ladies know what to guard against, because they read novels that tell them of these tricks…”

In case you were wondering, the above is a quote from one of the greatest novels of all time – Tess Of The D’Urbervilles.

Written by Thomas Hardy (no, not that one) in 1891, it follows Tess Durbeyfield as she is sent on a quest to seek a fortune from her aristocratic ancestors, the d’Urbevilles, with some sexual morals, murder and a job as a milkmaid thrown in for good measure.

Imagine my excitement then, when I arrived at The Acorn, only to find it was Hardy’s local while he was creating this 19th century masterpiece, and is even mentioned in the novel.

acorn2.JPG

This 16th century coaching inn is everything you could want in a quaint weekend away, with its leaning walls, rustic adornments and wisteria weaving its way around the stone work.

Located in the rural village of Evershot, in Dorset, a visit to The Acorn, known as The Sow & Acorn in the Hardy novel, is like stepping back in time, but with the added modern twist of fantastic food and bedrooms.

We arrived just after breakfast so we dropped our bags of and went to see the sights of Dorchester and Monkey World.

If the weather had been better we could have opted to walk through a park with wild, roaming deer, but the drizzling rain helped make up our minds on what option to take.

acorn1.JPG

We arrived back at the hotel just before 5pm, where we were shown to the most delightful of rooms, complete with four-poster bed and window seat overlooking the cute cottages in the village.

It truly was beautiful, so we set about getting ourselves ready for our dinner in the pub’s restaurant.

The pub has ten en-suite bedrooms, which are all pet-friendly, with dogs also allowed in the bar area, which has flagstone floors, old beams, low ceilings and a roaring fire to truly make you feel comfortable.

We arrived for dinner at 8pm and the restaurant was already almost full, so we decided to whet our appetites with a Dorset gin & tonic while perusing the menu.

acorn3.JPG

We were told the specials starter of scallops were quickly running out, and would we like any saving, but there such a beautiful choice on the menu we allowed them to be served to other diners.

We were brought a selection of some of the tastiest bread we had ever eaten, fresh from the bakery opposite, and we had to stop ourselves asking for seconds.

To start, I ordered the twice-baked crab and Cornish Yarg soufflé on pickled samphire, with a saffron and dill veloute and cheese straws (£8.50). My partner chose the open lasagne of confit rabbit, leeks and wild mushrooms with cheese crisps and rosemary jus (£8.25).

We indulged in the beautiful starters and couldn’t believe how much flavour was in them.

The soufflé was light yet densely packed with flavour, and the open lasagne was rich and absolutely to die for.

acorn4.JPG

As we waited for our mains, we took in the surroundings and were delighted to be in such a beautiful pub with a great atmosphere.

All the diners were deep in conversation and enjoying themselves, and the staff were impeccably polite – they couldn’t do enough for us.

For our main course, I chose the 10oz rump of Dorset ruby beef with roasted cherry tomatoes, crispy shallots, triple-cooked chips and béarnaise sauce (£24), and he went for the trio of pork, which included braised cheek, slow-roasted belly and smoked bacon-wrapped loin, with sage-creamed potatoes, bramley apple sauce and a Madeira reduction (£19).

I must have been served the whole side of a cow, and to say I usually order a rib-eye cut, the rump was melt in the mouth and perfectly cooked to my rare liking.

acorn5.JPG

The triple-cooked chips dipped in the flavoursome béarnaise were out of this world, and I was eagerly helped with my portion by the boyfriend.

The pork dish was also sublime, and I was allowed to eat the crispy crackling which was a real highlight.

We were stunned by the quality of the meat and the execution of the accompaniments, and couldn’t believe the portion sizes.

By this time we were well and truly stuffed, and decided to have our puddings back in the room so we could put our pyjamas on – much more room for food that way.

Without any hesitation, the staff obliged and brought us a baked vanilla cheesecake with candied orange, marmalade and finished with cranberries, and a medley of ice creams including vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, salted caramel and honeycomb.

I wish I could tell you what the puddings were like, but as I was in the bathroom getting ready the boyfriend had taken it upon himself to eat it all for the both of us.

acorn6.JPG

I was told they were both amazing.

We had such a comfortable stay at The Acorn we slept in over breakfast, with a wake-up call at 11am notifying us of our laziness.

Thankfully, the staff had left out several continental options for breakfast, as we apologised profusely for the lateness.

It was such a splendidly comfortable stay, though, so they only had themselves to blame.

The Acorn

Summer Lodge Country House eased away the stresses of daily life

The last time I headed to Dorset I was 18 months old and with my grandma and grandad on a long weekend away.

I’ve always been told how beautiful it was, but had never thought to make a return – mainly due to the lengthy car journey.

But I’m so glad I did, with the boyfriend and me heading down to Evershot last month for a much-needed getaway.

The drive is about five hours, but soon enough we had found our way to the secluded village of Evershot and the Summer Lodge Country House.

sum1.JPG

This 5-star country house hotel is a tranquil idyll, allowing you to forget the outside world and any cares.

We arrived at 5pm, just as the summer sun was beginning to cool, and it was the perfect time to see other couples and groups friends lounging on the sprawling lawns with gin & tonics and glasses of fix. It was bliss.

Our room overlooked the gardens, with fields for as far as the eye could see containing horses and ponies, and the only outside noise coming from people laughing on the outdoor terraces.

Traditionally yet exquisitely decorated, our bedroom was delightfully comfortable, and we soon freshened ourselves up for a meal in the hotel restaurant.

sum2.JPG

We arrived for dinner at 7.30pm, slightly earlier than planned, in order to enjoy an aperitif – gin & tonic, naturally –  while perusing the menu in the lounge area.

We even had a sommelier on hand to help us choose a bottle for the table, and it’s a luxury I could do with more often.

The restaurant was full but with a cosy, intimate ambience, and we were soon brought a basket of beautiful, homemade breads.

The meal was outstanding, with starters including roasted quail with hazelnut puree and crab tortellini with a silken veloute, and mains of roasted lamb and spring chicken with pea risotto.

sum3.JPG

Dessert saw him go for the cheesecake – quelle surprise – but I hadn’t taken my eyes off the cheese trolley all night, and I could tell there was a perfectly ripe brie with my name on it.

The beauty of Summer Lodge is that after dinner we were able to walk it off around the gardens, breathing in the midsummer air and relishing in the lack of traffic noise or light pollution.

It was heavenly, and also dog friendly, meaning I got my fill of stroking plenty of pooches while walking through the grounds.

After a fantastic night’s sleep with no noise from any roads or headlights shining through the window, breakfast was held in the summer conservatory, and saw a display of cured meats, cheeses, smoke salmon, Dorset granola and so much more.

sum4.JPG

For cooked breakfast, I opted for the eggs benedict, which were perfectly light, while the boyfriend tucked into a hearty full English with locally sourced produce.

We didn’t want to leave, and made sure we stayed until the exact moment of check-out in order to soak in the sunshine and more glorious views, as well as a peak around the local bakery opposite.

With a spa as well, I can’t wait to return to Summer House Country Lodge to ease the stresses of everyday life.

sum3.JPG

Summer Lodge Country House

Why stumbling upon Monkey World made my holiday

It was while on a romantic week away down in Dorset, on a winding lost route to Weymouth that we stumbled upon one of my now favourite places in the world.

We had made it to Dorchester, only to find it looked a bit boring, so set out on a route to find somewhere more exciting.

Suddenly, a road sign with a monkey popped up, so I knew exactly where we were supposed to be going.

moneky1.jpg

We ended up at Monkey World, and as a keen talker to the animals, I was jumping with joy to find it was still open for another few hours when we arrived at 3pm.

Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre assists governments around the world to stop the smuggling of primates from the wild, with the animals in the centre those that have suffered abuse or neglect and been rehabilitated into natural family groups.

I already knew the visit was going to be emotional, but I didn’t think I’d be living having been handed celery by a baby orangutan or flirted with by a capuchin.

monkey2.jpg

The centre is set over 65 acres, with five different species of gibbon, the largest group of chimpanzees living outside Africa, three groups of Orangutans and 11 species of monkeys and prosimians such as capuchins, marmosets, tamarins, lemurs, macaques and even woolly monkeys.

As we made our way around we stumbled upon the first group of chimpanzees, who were excitedly throwing poo at each other while one was casually sat with the newspaper in the corner.

We had talks from keepers about monkeys used in labs, coming face to face with those who had lived their lives in tiny cages.

monkey3.jpg

I witnessed chimps pretend to roll cigarettes, because it is so engrained in their behaviour, as well as baby orangutans reaching out their arms to me and capuchin monkeys flirting in their own little signals with my boyfriend.

We met the older members of the ape world, who were in their own retirement groups, while baby monkeys set out on a brighter life than when they had been bundled into sacks and transported across continents to be someone’s pet.

Entry to Monkey World is a mere £12 for adults, a steal for the educational value of seeing these beautiful animals.

monkey-world-intro.jpg

If you want to save these creatures, and teach your children the kindness the world needs, then please pay a visit to Monkey World.

Monkey World

Why The Rubens at The Palace will make you feel like royalty

If you’re planning on indulging yourself with a weekend away to the capital, then you had better treat yourself with a beautifully unique hotel.

Luckily, we found The Rubens at the Palace, and immediately felt as royal as its historic inhabitants.

The hotel itself forms part of the grounds and stables of a much earlier house on the same site, which was owned in 1703 by John Sheffield, who was made Duke of Buckingham by Queen Anne.

rubens.JPG

Since then, the site of the hotel has housed palace staff, a dress-maker extraordinaire, and was taken over by General Sikorski’s Free State Polish Army during the Second World War.

As you can imagine, the hotel is as vibrant as its history, with exquisite décor and food, transporting guests to the lavish lifestyles of bygone debutantes and duchesses.

Our room was daubed in red materials, with an incredibly comfortable regal bed – we even had a portrait of Princess Anne looking down at us.

Our window overlooked The Royal Mews, allowing us to watch the queen’s horses practice their routines as we woke up. It was magical.

curry.JPG

There are several eating options at the hotel, such as The English Grill with its a la carte British inspired menu, and The Bbar and Restaurant, but we opted for The Curry Room.

Thank goodness we did, as I had the pleasure of eating the best curry of my life.

Located below The English Grill, The Curry Room has an incredibly intimate ambience with down-lighting and spectacular ornaments, and we wined and dined on dishes such as homemade lamb samosas, traditional beef vindaloo and chicken and prawn curry.

The food was unlike any Indian cuisine I had eaten before, showing off the truly authentic taste us Brits so often miss out on.

ruebsn1.JPG

The price was extremely reasonable, also, with three courses including poppadums, and a selection of desserts to choose from, for just over £30 per head – the pistachio kulfi was dreamlike.

Before we knew it, it was breakfast time in The English Grill, where we set ourselves up for the day with a resplendent continental spread alongside a Full English and eggs benedict.

I felt like a princess at The Rubens, and anyone looking for a magical weekend away needs to pay it a visit.

Yo! Tuk Tuk in Beverley is my new favourite restaurant

I’ve found my new favourite restaurant.

It’s not a Michelin-starred palace, and it’s not a big name chain that has monopolised on the UK, either – it’s an Indian street food eatery inside the popular and historic WindMill pub in Beverley.

 

Yo! Tuk Tuk opened in March, and has already seen reservations stacking up for people to taste this simply stunning food.

32792468_10160243613345265_4403451542762422272_n.jpg

Nestled inside the Windmill Pub in Beverley’s Lairgate, which itself is more than 300 years old, Yo! Tuk Tuk is the brainchild of Aminul Choudhury, who instead of opening up his own venue and risk the financial battles so many face in the early stages, has teamed up with the Windmill to take on an unused space in the pub.

We walked through the pub to the back room at about 7.30pm on a Friday evening, and it’s a good job we booked in advance.
There are only about seven tables in the main eating area, with a couple more spilling out into the pub, and all of them had been snapped up with reserved signs.

The tables are all reclaimed from the pub, with mix and matched chairs creating a true rustic feel – not once did I feel I was inside a typical British curry house.

There was no gaudy lighting, no questionable wallpaper and no essay-length menus with too much to choose from.

32776246_10160243613150265_7362619477822799872_n.jpg
Instead, the menus are wrapped around cardboard so they stand up in front of you, with ten choices of starter, and then a couple of choices of mains under each subheading, which are all the different states of flavour around India.

There is also a vegan section, honouring the often strict vegetarian rules in Hinduism, and it offers Tiffin box menus for people wanting several smaller courses.

We were brought a cone of homemade Bombay mix each while choosing, and we knew straight away the night was going to be a taste sensation – Bombay mix with red onions, lime juice, coriander and chilli.

32853907_10160243613235265_9113934775504076800_n.jpg
We chose a selection of starters to share, which included:

  • Poppadums and homemade pickles include smooth mango chutney, yoghurt raita and tamarind.
  • Punjabi pyramid samosas, filled with spices, peas and potato.
  • Goats cheese and mozzarella parcels with filo pastry and chaat masala
  • Sweet chilli chicken infused with mustard, curry leaf and chilli with tomato relish
  • Fish and leek bhaji with lemon zest, lemon and cashew nut butter.

The starters were truly stunning and bursting with flavour, with the star of the show being the chicken dish. It was deliciously moist and there was no grease or ghee to be seen.

32767674_10160243613435265_2525671109144084480_n.jpg
The dishes were served on metal plates, adorned with banana leaves, and we couldn’t help but state how tasty everything was in between mouthfuls of food and sips of sauvignon blanc.

We were so excited for the main course after the explosion of spice and flavour from the main course, and during the break we were offered little copper cups filled with homemade mango lassi as a palate cleanser.
Two of us opted for the Bengal burner chicken (£9.95), which comes with a warning that it’s not for the faint-hearted, and I went for the gunpowder staff curry of the day (£9.95), which was tender and moist pieces of chicken infused with curry leaves and kaffir lime leaves, alongside chickpeas and minced lamb.

$RYPN4HK.jpg

When they said the Bengal burner wasn’t for the faint-hearted, they truly meant it. My fellow diners are big chilli eaters, able to eat vindaloos without a care in the world, and this dish had their noses running and brows sweating.

That didn’t take away from the taste and execution of the curry, though, as I was told it was “truly stunning”, and the best curry they had ever had in a restaurant.

The mains came with literal half pint glasses of perfumed rice, and a miniature shopping basket of homemade Indian breads, and we ordered a side of root vegetable stir-fry.
Again, there was no grease to be seen on any of the plates, and though we were full, we didn’t fill stuffed with ghee and carbs.

$R6HR6WD.jpg

The amazing atmosphere in Yo! Tuk Tuk means that you don’t feel pressured into sticking to your own table and own conversations if you don’t want to.

We got talking to the people on our neighbouring tables about their food and what they had ordered, and they all agreed how sublime the food was, and we even got talking with a member of staff and learnt all about his upbringing in rural Chennai.

Finally, three puddings arrived for us to try, and they were just as superb as everything else.
It was akin to a steamed sponge, but instead was made with rice noodles, with homemade vanilla ice cream that tasted like beautiful egg custard melting over the top.

We were truly spoilt at Yo! Tuk Tuk, and you can sense Aminul’s experience working in such places as The Cinnamon Club and in Dubai in the food, but the laidback feel of it all really sets off the restaurant perfectly.
We didn’t leave until almost 11pm because we were having so much fun, and we can’t wait to go back again or try one of their takeaways.

What you need to know about Yo! Tuk Tuk

Robin’s Oak in Princes Avenue is a great new place to eat – with fantastic discounts

A new restaurant has opened up at the top of my street – and I need everyone who loves steak and pasta to book a table.

Living off Princes Avenue gives you a privileged choice of bars and cuisines, from Moroccan to Indian and seafood to Spanish, and they’re all within walking distance so you don’t have the fear of being a designated driver.

But something even better arrived a couple of months ago, and there is now a fabulous steak restaurant just several doors away at the top of Blenheim Street.

Robin’s Oak took over the former Fudge Café several months ago. The building has undergone a transformation and the meat is superb.

Robins Oak steak house in Princes Avenue. Photo By Richard Addison
Robins Oak steak house in Princes Avenue. Photo By Richard Addison

We booked in on a Wednesday night at 7pm, and there were already two tables in there, which was good considering how quiet the Avenue can be on a hump-day.

We were greeted by a friendly staff member and made our way to a table in the middle of the restaurant.

I had a sneak peek at what other diners were eating as I walked passed, and the lasagne looked sensational – melted cheese and plenty of meat by the looks of it.

We didn’t need any time to order our drinks, and a bottle of cab sav arrived acceptably quick, and then we got down to the important bit of choosing our food.

The sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce at Robin's Oak
The sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce at Robin’s Oak

The starters included garlic mushrooms, chicken liver pate, deep fried squid, baked camembert and gamberoni, and we couldn’t decide to choose.

In the end, we opted for the deep fried squid with lemon aioli (£4.95) and the gamberoni – king prawns on a bed of leaves with chimichurri sauce (£5.95).

It was nice to see the food was homemade – Dave is the only chef in the kitchen I’m told – as we waited about 15 to 20 minutes for our starters.

I would say this is the optimum waiting time for a starter – enough time to have a glass of wine as well as get your tummy to vital grumbling point.

The deep fried squid with aioli at Robin's Oak
The deep fried squid with aioli at Robin’s Oak

The prawns had already been shelled which prevented any messy fingers, and there were about eight or nine plump crustaceans on a bed of green leaves and drizzled with the chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri is a sauce originating from Argentina, and is traditionally made using finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil. Oregano, chilli flakes and red wine vinegar.

It was full of flavour and really added a zin to the perfectly cooked prawns – the starter was light and fresh.

Rather than rings, the fried quid had been cut into strips, and were accompanied by a large helping of tasty aioli and a whole lemon to squeeze over.

We carried on with the chat and wine-sipping while waiting for our main courses, and within another 20 minutes they had arrived.

The chimichurri gamberoni at Robin's Oak
The chimichurri gamberoni at Robin’s Oak

As Robin’s Oak prides itself on its steaks, it would have been rude not to choose one of the menu.

We both went for a sirloin – rare – with French fries, roasted tomato, grilled mushroom and peppercorn sauce (£17.95).

My dining partner can’t stomach mushrooms, so they gave her an extra few chips to compensate – very kind indeed!

The steaks on the menu included sirloin and rump, with other choices of gammon and lamb steaks, too.

There were pasta options such as the lasagne and also seafood dishes, as well as wild mushroom risotto, a selection of stroganoffs, some divine-sounding burgers and also a selection of salads.

The specials board is ever-changing, and on the Wednesday night it was sirloin en croute, topped with pate and served with Mediterranean vegetables and mushroom sauce.

The sirloin steak without the grilled mushroom at Robin's Oak
The sirloin steak without the grilled mushroom at Robin’s Oak

Our steaks were juicy and plump, and for the size of them, were cooked perfectly.

The peppercorn sauce was also exactly what we wanted – creamy with a fiery bite – and the French fries were as good as you can get.

The portions at Robin’s Oak are deceptively large, and I had to leave most of my chips (something I regretted deeply the next day) because of the amount of meat on my plate.

Our meal at Robin’s Oak was lovely, and it’s so refreshing to have something of quality along that small row of businesses, especially since Fudge and Ray’s Place have shut up shop.

Robins Oak steak house in Princes Avenue. Photo By Richard Addison
Robins Oak steak house in Princes Avenue. Photo By Richard Addison

Our meal came to about £65, but we didn’t realise that on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, there is 30 per cent off all food, meaning our bill was brought down to £51.

So for a really decent bottle of red, two starters and two steaks, we spent £25 a head.

We were extremely pleased, and I can’t wait to go back to try some of the amazing-looking lasagne.

Robin’s Oak

  • 93 Princes Avenue, Hull
  • 01482 349301
  • Disabled access
  • On-street parking
  • Vegetarian options available

Beverley’s Sessions Spa is an oasis of calm right on our doorstep

After a weekend in Beverley celebrating our anniversary, the boyfriend and I knew we needed one more thing to look forward to before the morning phone alarms were turned back on, so we headed straight to Sessions Spa.

Located through Beverley’s North Bar Without, just before getting to Molescroft, it’s amazing to think such a grand, former courthouse could leave you feeling so isolated from the rest of the world, and I left feeling like a new woman.

The spa has recently undergone an amazing transformation, creating an incredible atmosphere that left us untied from our phones and diaries, and the opportunity to spend quality time doing the thing we love best – absolutely nothing.

New_HURA20180504B-013_C.jpg

We were shown to the changing areas where we got into our cozzies and the most luxurious, over-sized dressing gowns in any spa I’ve been to.

Hotels take note, I do not want small dressing gowns in rooms, I want the robes straight from Sessions.

We began our relaxation retreat in the lounge area with a coffee and magazines, shying away from any outside light and noise.

We had full use of the steam room and tropical shower, and we laid like vegetables in the 45 minutes leading up to our treatments.

New_HURA20180504B-017_C.jpg

When it was time, we were collected by the beauty therapists and before the words “Do you want to be in a joint treatment room” even left the staff member’s mouth, my head was shaking with defiance and I knew I needed to be left alone.

My treatment room was palatial and magnificent.

The scents of a spa wafted through the air and I could already hear the crashing sounds of waves humming across the speakers.

After a swift consultation, I had my swimming costume rolled down and was lying on the warmed bed ready for my hot stone massage.

New_HURA20180504B-010_C.jpg

It was incredible. One hour of being stretched and unwound with hot stones left my body completely limp, and I could hear every creak and crack being alleviated.

Then it was onto the yoga facial, something I had never experienced before, and I cannot wait to book in again for another.

My face was nourished with countless creams and toners, as well as exfoliated, and my cheeks and forehead were massaged until my face resembled that of a newborn baby.

My neck was also massaged, and my head was gently moved from side to side to really get rid of the knots and aches.

New_HURA20180504B-015_C.jpg

After almost two hours of pure bliss, the therapist performed several minutes of meditation in order to wake my body up, and I felt like I was floating on air.

With magical oils running through my air from the facial, I was so glad we had been booked in for a wash and blow-dry before we left.

With further head massaging throughout the conditioning process, I looked as if I had had a full colour as my hair felt so shiny and soft.

I can see how the stars become so accustomed to having personal hairdressers making them look fabulous every day.

New_HURA20180504B-002_C.jpg

We left elated, with the boyfriend exclaiming it was the best massage he had ever had, and after our four hours of pure relaxation it was back into the outside world and onto measuring for some new kitchen cabinets.

Sessions Spa is a true oasis of calm right on our doorstep, and I couldn’t recommend it enough.

Sessions Spa

  • New Walk, Beverley, HU17 7AE
  • Visit www.sessionsspa.co.uk
  • Call 01482 873000
  • Email info@sessionsspa.co.uk