British Travels: Highlights of Where We Ate During our One Month Trip to Britain – Southwest England

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After every trip, we always share a list of the places we ate. This time around, the list is rather large because were in the UK for so long (33 days). So, this is not an exhaustive list of every single place we ate, but rather a list of the highlights. We don’t need to share every time we ate fast food or had a horrible meal.

But we’ll share the meals we loved and the meals that were the worst so you can avoid the places.

This article will be divided into three parts: London, Dorset and the Cotswolds to reflect the three geographic locations we stayed near. The London section is over on our sister site, Londontopia.

Highlights of Where we ate in London

The Dorset list is rather large because were were there for the longest. Many of the great places we ate were spread out over the Southwest as we used Shaftesbury as a base to explore the surrounding counties.

The Peel Restaurant – Shaftesbury

We ate here a few times while in Shaftesbury mostly because of the familiarity. It’s an American style diner that serves burgers and fish & chips. We’ve never had a bad meal here and it’s a local family run place.

The Mitre Inn – Shaftesbury

This is a fancier ‘gastro pub’ located on Shaftesbury’s high street. The menu has changed since the last time we at there (probably 6-7 years ago now) but the food was very good. We were in there on a weeknight and were the only diners present. There was a roaring firing burning behind us and it was quiet – just a a pub meal should be.

Harry Ramsden (Southampton)

This is a chain of fish & chip restaurants in England’s south. I didn’t have fish though, I had chicken gaujons (what the British appear to call chicken tenders). It was simply one of the most delicious meals I had the entire trip. I ate at the location in the Southampton West Quay shopping centre. I’d almost go there again just to eat there. I’m a man of simple tastes.

Frankie and Bennies (near Harry Potter Experience)

The day we visited the Harry Potter Experience (more on that later), we were hungry after the drive from central London so we needed somewhere to eat. Our SatNav led us to this place (it will take you to places to eat if you tell it to) and it’s a strange restaurant that has an American/New York Theme. The food was recognizable to anything you’d want to get back home and we had a lovely breakfast (which was very cheap something like £5 a meal). We wouldn’t go out of our way to eat at this place again but at least we know the food is all right.

Bar 38 – Portsmouth

After visiting the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard we were starving and the onsite cafe didn’t really appeal to us. So we walked down the street to Gun Wharf Quay, a local shopping centre that had ample eating. We at a place called Bar 38 which was essentially a regular old British pub with delicious pub grub. It was very inexpensive – 2 adult meals for just £9.99. It hit the spot and fueled us up for further explorations.

Quayside Restaurant – Swanage

One of the highlights of our trip was a day out on the The Swanage Railway – an old Steam railway that runs a few miles on reclaimed lines. It runs from near Corfe Castle right into Swanage City Centre. Swanage is an old seaside resort town surrounded by gorgeous cliffs and expansive views out to sea – you can see the Isle of Wight on a clear day. While there wasn’t much to do in the middle of winter, there’s plenty of places to eat. So, we at at the Quayside Restaurant, which is located right over the water and you can gaze out to sea while you enjoy a nice hearty meal. It took just long enough to head back in time to catch the return stream train back to where we started.

The George Inn – Mere

While out exploring on a crisp Sunday we struggled to find somewhere to eat lunch out in the countryside. Every pub we stopped into that looked good, ended up being fully booked for Sunday Lunch. The lesson we learned is that you need to plan ahead for Sunday Lunch! We found an opening in Mere at the George Inn and had probably one of the best meals of our trip, creating a love for Sunday Roast that will endure for the rest of our lives.

Longleat Cafe

Our visit to Longleat House and Safari Park (more on that later) was a highlight of our trip and it’s a pretty all inclusive attraction. There’s plenty of places to eat while you’re there (and they have prices to match a tourist attraction). We opted for lunch int he Longleat Cafe and it was perfectly serviceable. We recommend going a little early for lunch though, by the time we left, the place was heaving with people.

Pythouse Walled Garden

We didn’t have a full meal here but this lovely little gem is worth a visit for tea or coffee (or delicious cake). Located in the former grounds of a stately home (you see Pythouse on the approach but it’s now privately owned), the walled garden is a lovely quiet little place to enjoy a pot of tea with friends. They do have a restaurant and you can get a full meal.

Compton Abbas Airport Cafe

Located outside of Shaftesbury is the Compton Abbas Airport, which is the local aerodrome for flying enthusiasts. It’s a place I’ve visited before (and have flown from). They have a lovely cafe on site that’s worth visiting even if you have no interest in the airport. The food is simply fantastic and the restaurant has expansive views across the hills of Dorset. Well worth a stop if you’re hungry.

Grosvenor House – Shaftesbury

The Grosvenor in Shaftesbury has gone through several owners the last few years and this time around the place has been turned in to a fine local restaurant serving hearty cuisine that is sourced locally. We looked forward to going the entire time in Shaftesbury and visited with our very good friends. The food was pretty good and we’d definitely go back.

The White Hart – Whitchurch

This was our first experience with a British Carvery and will probably be our last. We were very hungry when we found this place. We got stuck in for Sunday Lunch carvery but the lack of people inside should have been a red flag (as the previous weekend we struggled to find an open table anywhere). The staff was perfectly pleasant but the food, however, was not. We left with an eye watering bill that left us feeling like we’d once again been mugged.

Cassandra’s Cup in Chawton

This lovely little place is located right across the street from Jane Austen’s House in Chawton (more on that later). They offer a tea service and a lovely selection of cakes. Great place to fuel up before exploring the area further.

Next week, we’ll share the list of where we are while we were staying in the Cotswolds.

Comments

  1. avatarAndyF says

    Hello there. I enjoy reading your posts and glad to see that you found lots of great places to eat. I feel that I have to point out that Harry Ramsden’s is a national chain that originated in the North of England. The Southerners have enough to lay claim to. It was featured on Undercover Boss and the Southampton branch was one of the restaurants visited. You can get tins of their mushy peas from supermarkets such as Waitrose.

  2. avatarMary Golden says

    Did you get to Lyme Regis? We spent a week there and loved it. Next trip I am going with people who WANT to look for fossils AND spend time in pubs. Are you aware of the Chlurchmice series of children’s books? One of those is set in Lyme. The illustrations are beautiful and your son might like them, if not now, in a year or two.

  3. avatarSue says

    Goodness, I’ve never heard goujons referred to as “tenders”. Don’t know when that happened!

    Beware the carvery – some are good, but some are very very bad.

    • avatarJanet says

      I’ve been to some very good carverys and some not so good. It’s like anything else, when you find somewhere you like, you go back.

  4. avatar says

    Jonathan ~ I hope you plan on writing a post about Longleat House. I saw a bit of in a TV show. I saw something curious on Longleat’s downstairs’ servants board: “SLIT Nursery.” It appeared beneath the heading “Nurseries” and between “Day Nursery” and “Night Nursery.” Do you – or anyone – know what that means? I’m working on a novel for which that might be an interesting bit. Thanks!

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