I visited The Ilchester whilst staying in Abbotsbury and have mixed feelings about the overall experience.
I have awarded 4 stars given that, apparently, ownership has recently changed, so teething troubles no doubt remain.
The décor was very nice and has been finished to a good standard with retained character and some modern touches. The large outdoor seating area has a wonderful view! The live music also made for a reasonably lively atmosphere.
I found the staff very polite and friendly and we were seated by a waitress who informed us that she'd be looking after us for the night. This turned out not to be the case - after we ordered our food we asked for a wine list, chose, but received no further attention for 10-15 minutes. Eventually my patience grew thin and I and left the table to try to order at the bar, but another member of staff noticed this and very quickly accosted me and offered to help - nice save!
Our food came quickly enough, and we shared a starter of humus, olives and chicken liver parfait. The Humus was particularly good and had a unique flavour, I imagine it was either home made or from a local source, The parfait itself was nice, but came with bread sticks, rather than bread. This was a little strange and quite simply doesn't work; luckily the humus was served with bread, so we had some on table and all was not lost. I hope the proprietors read this and resolve this minor issue - If I come back I'd like bread with my parfait please!!
I had the "catch of the day" for main, which came with the usual chips and peas; no complaints here. My parter is a little fussy, not overly so, but couldn't find anything on the menu that she liked. When we'd looked at the menu beforehand we saw a steak and ale pie (or similar), which I think she had her heart set on, but this had seemingly been removed. She ended up going for the veggie option, which was a cheese soufflé with new potatoes, veg and peppercorn sauce. Wanting to be as polite as possible to the chef, I think you should re-think this one, as she did not enjoy it and I tried it and felt that none of the flavours worked particularly well together. The new potatoes in particular had an odd, bitter taste.
I have to mirror comments from other reviewers and say that overall, the prices are high relative to the standard of the food at this stage. This place could be great, and I enjoyed my evening a the Ilchester, but there is still work to do on the menu, and service needs to be tightened up.
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