The Talbot Inn Mells, Somerset, BA11 3PN
Mastering the menu
Head chef Pravin Nayar, who established the excellent food offer at the Beckford Arms, offers an exciting, seasonally changing menu with a genuine feel. Nearly everything is made, cured or smoked in-house, and local ingredients are used where possible, including Dexter beef, lamb, pork and chicken, with some produce grown in the pub’s kitchen garden. The menu blends more imaginative dishes, such as pork loin and belly fritter with heritage carrots, mash and ham hock consommé, and stout braised veal cheek, buttermilk mash, caramelised cabbage & wild garlic, with perfectly executed pub classics like beer battered fish & chips with mushy peas and tartar sauce, the Talbot burger, and ploughman’s with local Westcombe Cheddar. Leave room for a treat from the short and enticing desserts menu, perhaps dark chocolate and peanut butter tart with vanilla ice cream, or order a plate of delicious local cheeses. Imaginative vegetarian options may include salt-baked Barrington celeriac, wild mushrooms, pearl barley, roasted garlic and pea, lemon and thyme pithivier, smoked aubergine, courgette salad and goat’s curd.
On the menu
Bower Chalke veal liver parfait, vinegar jelly, apple, beets & toast
House smoked pheasant breast, duck salami, salsify, pickled red onions, tarragon.
Monkfish & mussel stew, chickpeas, smoked paprika, crab mayonnaise, grilled lemon
42-day aged rump steak from Robin Pitkin, horseradish, bone marrow butter and chips
Warm carrot cake, stem ginger ice cream and pecans
Roast rib of aged beef, Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes
Slow roasted shoulder of locally reared lamb, cauliflower cheese and roast potatoes
Huntsham pork belly and crackling, Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes
On Sundays in the Grill Room, expect a simpler menu with typically one starter and two puddings and delicious roasts, perhaps 42-day aged beef from Robin Pitkin with horseradish sauce, roast leg of lamb with mint sauce, and roast Castle Mead chicken with lemon & tarragon and bread sauce.
The Sitting Room can be used for private dinners for up to 14 people, with set and sharing menus on offer. There’s a cookery school (www.kitchentablecookery.co.uk) offering one or two-day hands-on classes (bread & pastry making, for example), and weekly demos and tastings explore a seasonal ingredient each week. There are also regular wine and food nights, and supper clubs.
Time to Eat
Breakfast: 8am – 9.30am
Lunch: 12 noon – 2.30pm
Supper: 6pm – 9:30pm
Grill Room: 6.30pm – 9.30pm (Fridays & Saturdays; 12 noon – 3pm Sunday)
Local, local, local
West Country beef and lamb, free range outdoor reared pork and English chicken
Dexter beef – naturally reared at a Little Burdon Farm in nearby Charlton
Somerset milk, cream and butter – Ivy house Farm (www.ivyhousefarmdairy.co.uk)
Cheese – Westcombe Dairy (www.westcombedairy.com)
Keystone Brewery (www.keystonebrewery.co.uk)
Butcombe Brewery (www.butcombe.com)
Bramley Products – natural bath and body products handmade by Chloe Luxton (Charlie’s wife – www.bramleyproducts.co.uk)
Behind the bar
Among the inn’s three ales and weekly-changing guest beer is its own Talbot Ale, brewed at the Keystone Brewery, which is close to the Beckford Arms. Alternatively, sup a pint of locally brewed Butcombe Bitter. Naturally, Somerset ciders are championed, with Ashton Press, Thatcher’s Haze Cloudy and Orchard Pig available on tap. Spirit drinkers are well catered for too, and bar offers a speciality collection of English gins, while the inns’ own ‘Talbot Bloody Mary’ is rather special. An interesting, accessible and varied wine list offers affordable but exciting wines from small producers in both the New and Old World and there’s a solid selection of wines by the glass.
Time at the bar
8am – 11pm (10.30pm Sunday)