Inspired by what? Well, a chef can draw inspiration from many things. From a great recipe, a review of some other chef’s achievements, a glimpse of a Master Chef masterpiece or even a tweeted snap of somebody’s dinner!
But our underlying, day-to-day inspiration comes from where we are. People who live here often take it for granted, but we are lucky enough to be reminded by our guests that Somerset has something very special. We start with the enormous advantage that the produce grown, reared or caught on our doorstep is second to none. So when we say that Somerset provides our inspiration, it is no more than a simple statement of fact.
If we say so ourselves Jools’ skill is in feeding a small number of people with simply wonderful food, in an unhurried manner, and that’s the way we try to make the restaurant run.
With the produce we have available to us the most important quality in a chef is restraint. Let the intrinsic quality work its magic then leave it alone. Bring out the flavours but keep it simple. Our presentation may seem a little stark, not as primped as devotees of Master Chef may expect, but Jools just can’t bring himself to ‘gratuitously garnish’ just for effect.
With the exception of the ice cream everything we serve at The Pilgrims is home-made. Virtually nothing comes ready made out of a packet. Everything is prepared and cooked by Jools with help from Sally. Whatever you choose will be cooked to order which means that you may have to wait a little longer than we are all used to in this frenetic age. But the table is yours for the evening and although we work as quickly as we can, we assume that you would rather have something worth waiting for than “fast food”.
Families are always welcome to dine at The Pilgrims but, in our own experience, children don’t like children’s menus. So we don’t have one. And some people just have smaller appetites. Most of our main courses can be prepared in a smaller portion, for a smaller price.
We find the word ‘local’ crops up a lot when The Pilgrims is discussed, not necessarily in the traditional pub sense, although many of our regular diners are ‘locals’ who see us as their neighbourhood restaurant. It’s more that we have become a bit of a focal point for good things produced hereabouts, a showcase for and champion of many of the wonderful artisan crafted drinks and foodstuffs from what would be the Appellation of Somerset, if there were any justice. We’re not fanatical about it, but we are more than a bit passionate. If our food is ‘Inspired’ then this is what inspires it.
This means that our menu is something of a moveable feast - changing at least monthly and often daily - with the seasonal availability of fresh ingredients. Almost all of our vegetables are locally and organically grown. Our cheeses are all made within 30 miles, they just happen to be world-class cheeses; milk and cream come from Olive Farm’s Guernsey herd, a mile away for any self- respecting crow; our bacon is from Denhay’s in Bridport; eels are smoked at Brown & Forrest on the Somerset levels; fresh fish comes direct from Bridport; Jon Thorner sources all our meat from local farms; salads are grown by Charles Dowding and most of our vegetables by a local organic co-operative. Jools makes most of our bread from locally milled organic spelt and wheat flours, topping up from Phil at Lievito around the corner. Lovington’s Ice Creams and Cottage Brewing are also in Lovington.