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“Nice place, could be better”

The Ilchester Arms Hotel Restaurant
Ranked #3 of 7 Restaurants in Abbotsbury
Price range: US$12 - US$33
Cuisines: British, Gastropub
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special Occasion Dining
Dining options: After-hours, Breakfast, Reservations
Description: The Ilchester Arms has recently been taken over by the Harrison family, re-opening after a full renovation in April 2014. Offering informal dining in the conservatory, dining room or bar areas, there are a variety of menus offering affordable bar snacks and home made meals through to fantastic locally sourced steaks and seafood. Freshly made breakfasts, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea options can all be enjoyed under the gaze of St Catherines Chapel, or a comprehensive drinks selection can be sampled by our roaring log fire. The delicious menus are created by renowned Head Chef Sean McBride and focus on using locally sourced ingredients.
Reviewed 22 June 2014

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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Thank Alex W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sarah H, Owner at The Ilchester Arms Hotel Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded 30 June 2014

Hello Alex W

Thank for for taking the time to leave a review, customer feedback is really important to us. We are still a very new business - we took over The Ilchester as a family in April following a full refurb and revamp of the old business, so it's still very early days for us.

It's great to hear that you like the renovations and were able to enjoy the gorgeous view. And yes, the humus is 100% home made (this is something that Sean our Head Chef focuses strongly on, and stretches out to his home made bread rolls, jams, ice creams and much more...!). We will certainly pass your comments back to Sean, he's been getting outstanding feedback but we are certainly interested to hear all of our customers thoughts.

We source our meat, fish and vegetables locally, and everything is fresh which does come at a premium, but we keep prices as low as we possibly can. We also aim to offer a range of menus so there are cheaper bar meals and snacks along with the more comprehensive restaurant options.

We don't currently include a service charge on our bills as we're in such early stages of the business, but the whole team is working steadily to polish the finer service details, so thank you again for your feedback. We're also deliberately recruiting local waiters as we wish to support employment in the area, so training is an ongoing priority.

Things are settling in nicely and the menus rotate every two weeks, so we do hope that you'll be able to visit us again in the future.

Best wishes from the Harrison family and everyone at The Ilchester Arms.

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Reviews (271)
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250 - 254 of 271 reviews

Reviewed 21 June 2014

We were staying at www.highermoorfarm.co.uk and were looking for somewhere to watch England play. We came across The Ilchester and we are so glad we did.

It has been recently taken over and refurbished. The new owners have done a grand job. It has a comfortable, cosy and relaxed feel. The conservatory is beautiful, with scenic views. There is attention to detail everywhere you look - from little jugs with sprays of wild flowers to the basket with hairspray, deodorant etc in the toilets. It is also spotlessly clean.

After a shocking England game, but a great local pint for the other half, wine for myself and genuinely friendly service from the staff we decided to return the following night to dine.

We were not disappointed. Once again, the staff were friendly, helpful and nothing was too much trouble. They were well informed about the menu and able to answer any questions and confidently offer recommendations. The service was attentive without being over the top and genuine rather than scripted (as it is in so many places these days).

The food was as fantastic as the service! I had a Goat's cheese tart to start. They use local producers and the cheese was the best I have tasted. The food looked as good as it tasted, with presentation I would expect from a top restaurant.

The mains were equally good and unfortunately by this point we were too full for desserts. After the delicious Goat's cheese, we were tempted by the fantastic cheese board option but just couldn't manage it. The very helpful staff arranged to have it all wrapped so we could take it with us to enjoy in our tent later that night!

Overall, a great meal with exceptional service. Thank you!

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Thank Sarah B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sarah H, Owner at The Ilchester Arms Hotel Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded 22 June 2014

Hello Sarah B

Thank you so much for your lovely review, we're a new family business and this type of feedback is so important to hear. We're really pleased that you enjoyed your visits and have enjoyed both the food and also the finer details! Sean the Head Chef, and his team, are doing an amazing job - we're continually excited to reveal the various menus as they rotate with the fresh produce available.

We also have eight bedrooms available at reduced rates prior to them being renovated (which also includes a full breakfast), so do consider staying with us on any future visits. It's an extremely handy stroll upstairs after finishing dinner!

Many thanks again for such positive feedback. We hope to be able to welcome you back again.

Best wishes from everyone at The Ilchester Arms.

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Reviewed 19 June 2014

we visited Abbotsbury and Chesil Beach nearby and were in need of refreshments. We have a dog so prefer sitting outside when the weather allows. The Ilchester Arms has a lovely and spacious "beergarden". My husband wanted an afternoon tea and and I had a crayfish baguette, both were tasty. The staff were friendly and helpful, our dog was offered fresh water and biscuits!
The décor inside was lovely and the conservatory was beautiful.

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Thank tally65
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sarah H, Owner at The Ilchester Arms Hotel Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded 22 June 2014

Hello Tally65

Thank you for taking the time to leave such a positive review. We're a new family business and this type of feedback is lovely to read. We hope to be able to welcome you back again in the future.

Best wishes from everyone at The Ilchester Arms.

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Reviewed 13 June 2014

Just back from spending the afternoon/evening at the Ilchester Arms Hotel, lovely food, great atmosphere, good beer garden with a nice view up to st catherines chapel and most importantly friendly, helpful & sociable staff. Love the decor, vintage, shabby chic, modern yet cosy. Good live music tonight. Great touches of the little extras in the ladies too! I would definately recommend the chocolate and orange cheesecake, it is to die for!!!! Thank you chef.We will definitely be back & hope to stay overnight next time. Sarah & Dave

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Thank Sarah R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sarah H, Guest Relations Manager at The Ilchester Arms Hotel Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded 22 June 2014

Hello Sarah R

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave us your feedback. As a new family business it's really important (and lovely!) to hear that you enjoyed your visit. We hope to be able to welcome you back again in the future.

Best wishes from everyone at The Ilchester Arms.

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Reviewed 9 June 2014

The longest wait ever for food - which when it eventually arrived an hour late did not match the description on the over-priced menu. After an upset stomach following the meal, I would advise people to go elsewhere.

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Thank Thelms29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sarah H, Owner at The Ilchester Arms Hotel Restaurant, responded to this reviewResponded 12 June 2014

Hello Thelms29

Thank you for taking the time to leave your review, our guest feedback is extremely important to us.

We've only been open for 8 weeks and have already experienced some extremely busy periods, so apologies that you had to wait too long for your food. We will work on this and ensure that staff communicate to every customer as/when the kitchen gets particularly busy. It would also be great to find out what you ordered vs what was served to you. We would certainly like to relay this detail back to the Head Chef as he has otherwise been receiving excellent reviews.

More importantly we'd like to speak to you directly about the upset stomach that you experienced. We've never had any other guests with this issue, and have the highest standards with cleanliness and food hygiene so take this very seriously. Please do contact us to discuss further - 01305 873841.

Otherwise, we are a very new, family business and all teams are working hard to ensure that we offer consistently fantastic, locally sourced menus and a warm welcome. We hope to be able to welcome you back in the future and offer you the experience you deserve.

Best wishes, the Harrison family.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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