'I lunched not wisely but too well'! And I did it two days running! Well, probably that's nothing to you metropolitan elites but it is quite something for us country bumpkins. The reason was, as I pointed out below, that Thursday was our wedding anniversary - the 49th, since you asked, er, you did ask, didn't you? - and naturally I tried to book at our favourite restaurant, Little Barwick House, of which I have written before, but - shlock-horror - they were full up. However, not to be put off, I booked for today. Even so, Thursday was The Day and something had to be done and Baldrick-like, I came up with a cunning plan.
The 'Memsahib' has recently aquired new bedroom furniture and I was hinted at, fairly forcibly, that a wooden stand upon which she would be able to hang her necklaces (gross worth approx. £10 if my friendly neighbourhood burglar is reading this) was absolutely required in order to finish off the refurnishing. I suddenly remembered Dansel Gallery in the delightful seaside village of Abbotsbury. (Financial Health Warning: This blog accepts no responsibility for anyone who visits this Gallery and drops far more dosh than than they ever expected to!) The Dansel Gallery only sells artifacts made out of wood, some of them absolute works of art by superb craftsmen. There really is something about worked wood which makes it irresistible. Suffice to say, that the village of Abbotsbury lies on the way to the next village of Burton Bradstock which is the location of The Hive Beach Cafe and normally I put my foot down and hurtle through in the hope that I can rush past before the 'Memsahib' notices the Gallery! However, this time I had cunningly telephoned them and found out that they had a wooden 'necklace tree' so bought it and told them to hold it until Thursday. This time, driving slowly through Abbotsbury and chatting idly about what we could buy the 'Memsahib's' oldest girlfriend for her 75th birthday, I suggested casually that we might drop in to the Dansel Gallery and see what they had. Dead cunning or what?!
So, with more Brownie points than I have had for a long time we went on to The Hive Beach Cafe. If I tell you that this really is 'a caff' with cheap aluminium tables with plastic tops, cheap wicker-work chairs, situated inside a sort of metal frame onto which is hung canvas drop down (or pull up in good weather) 'walls', and that you queue to order your food, you will get some idea of the ambience! But, and this is the biggest 'BUT' you will experience if you go there, the food is simply sensational! Obviously, being on the beach the menu is strongly fish orientated and as it comes directly first thing every morning from the nearby fishing villages, it is as fresh as you could get it. I had scallops, as big as a mastiff's bollocks but tender as a woman's heart, and I think there must have been well over a dozen of them covered in a scrummy sauce with chopped chorizo sausage. It came with a side salad and two great hunks of fesh brown bread which, frankly, given the size and number of the scallops, was redundant. I was going to keep this cafe secret but it is perfectly obvious that everyone, and everyone's uncle, knows about it so that even if, as it was on Thursday, the rain hurtles down and a good ol' sou' wester is ripping along the coast, the place is still busy-busy!
So far, so good, and I am definitely ahead of the game. Today it was 'best bib and tucker' and off to Little Barwick House. I'm running out of superlatives so if you wish to find out more read my earlier post or if you want a more sober description visit their website. Suffice to say that it remains as thoroughly excellent as it ever was, with Tim slaving away in the kitchen and Emma gracing the dining-room with her usual cheerful charm. We both had the fillets of beef which almost literally melted in the mouth.
Adopting the local argot, 'if you do be ever down 'ere in these parts' (how's my accent?), both these establishments must - and that's an order! - be visited. My heading indicates some sort of contest between them but that is just my usual silliness. You cannot compare them because they are both striving for the same thing but by radically different routes. What they try to achieve is really excellent food - and they both succeed.