Page 35 - Yeovil Feast Magazine
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Abbots Cellar Restaurant The Priory
There are two ways of arriving at the Priory Hotel in Wareham, one can catch the tide and arrive by boat – going about as far up the River Frome as is possible, or by road past the 12th century Lady St Mary Church – either way the approach is stunning.
Fast forward by four centuries and you have the atmospheric, traditional, and self-admitted quintessentially English Priory Hotel. Every step is like going back in time.
Aperitifs are taken in the lounge alongside the open  re, pianist, and  ne art illustrating the Priory’s previous inhabitants, and the cellar restaurant’s namesakes, the Abbots.
The Priory o ers a ‘proper’ dining experience paired with impeccable service, just as it should be in such an establishment.
Delightful hors-d’oeuvres of cream cheese mini tarts and con t duck pastry rolls are enjoyed with a bottle of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut and  nal decisions are made after much deliberation. There are 11 starters plus 11 main courses to choose from and at least half of this broad selection appeals to all of the guests – a couple more minutes please...
Orders taken and we are shown through the tiny corridors through the Cloisters Cocktail Bar and down into the cellars – what a setting, exposed brick and stone walls and a white linen dressed, candlelit table is ready.
The kiln roasted salmon rillettes and prawn tian with pea purée, wholegrain mustard crème fraîche, and a sesame crisp was subtle, the smoky kiln  avours making themselves known, yet not overpowering the fresh  avours of the prawn and cool crème fraîche. The salad of warm asparagus with Scottish smoked salmon, cucumber, and lime Chantilly and herb oil was really generous, with more salmon than asparagus, but presented beautifully, the asparagus al dente and the Chantilly exquisitely dressed with samphire. The roasted pepper, chicken and duck terrine with red pepper coulis and sesame toast made for one of the more rustic
starters. These accompanied by a bottle of Pouilly Fuisse ‘les Crays’ 2012 Domaine Auvigue with its full bodied style, complemented the  sh and cream garnishes, as well as the nature of the terrine.
It’s at this juncture that the table appreciates the service – really good and non-intrusive service, just seamless and instinctive.
Mains are brought to table collectively and the  llet of halibut, potato and fennel tatin, asparagus spears with lemongrass and vanilla sauce was a delight – the meaty  sh perfectly cooked as promised by the maître d’. The Devon farm beef  llet with foie gras, wild mushroom, and potato rosti, seasonal vegetables, tru e, red wine, and Madeira jus came with a supplement and was worth the investment. Again cooked perfectly to order and hearty. The meat was tender and  avoursome and well paired with a bottle or two of Christian Moueix Pomerol 2010, a super match for the beef.
There were eight desserts to choose from along with a traditional English cheese board, these give rise to more deliberation. The warm sticky to ee pudding with to ee sauce and vanilla ice cream is... sticky of course, yet the pudding airy and light – fabulously prepared, and the milk chocolate, peanut, and to ee delice with a chocolate shard and vanilla foam was taken to another level by a glass of Muscat Beaumes de Venice.
A thoroughly rewarding dining experience as any one of the regulars will corroborate, however, in the long term it is inevitable that the Priory will have to infuse a little modernisation into its proposition to keep a new generation of diners in the Abbotts Cellar satis ed. But as long as the standard of food from chef Stephan Guinebault continues at this level and the service remains so particular, and as importantly that the spirit prevails, we’re all for ‘proper’ dining at the Priory, and long may it last.
01929 551666
Church Green, Wareham,
Dorset, BH20 4ND. 35

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