THE SEASIDE BOARDING HOUSE
Mary-Lou Sturridge opened my favourite watering hole in London, The Groucho Club, but when she finally started taking bookings for The Seaside Boarding House last year, it was after a painful few years of planning. It sits on the clifftop in Burton Bradstock, close to my home town of Bridport in Dorset, and over the years it’s had several incarnations. It was an old people’s home when Mary-Lou acquired it and she used to entertain friends there.
The simple, stylish rooms offer clean seaside luxury, complete with cast-iron claw-feet bathtubs and views of the Jurassic Coast. Mary-Lou cleverly brought in the prodigiously talented Alastair Little to add a bit of sparkle to the menu. Little is a mine of food knowledge, and the menu at Boarding House has a good mix of world food and good local and seasonal ingredients.
THE GUNTON ARMS
Ivor Braka, art dealer extraordinaire, has lived in the gatehouse of Gunton Park in Norfolk for many years, gradually restoring the surrounding fields, returning trees and deer to the park. Somewhat neglected in the corner of the park was The Gunton Arms, so Ivor bought and sympathetically restored it, retaining the pub element so the locals can still enjoy a pint and a bar snack.
There is something to be said for an establishment retaining a traditional feel of a local pub while also operating as a restaurant, and at The Gunton the menu boasts many dishes using the deer that live on the estate, from bar snack sausages and koftas to homemade pastrami and pies.
Refreshingly, the rooms have no TVs, but be warned: although the locals may love the food and wood-fired indoor and outdoor barbecue of Stuart Tattersall (the ex-head chef at Hix Oyster & Chop House), some have taken offence at the art by the usual YBA suspects – of which Ivor is a big supporter – that’s dotted around the building.