EVERYONE is in search of getting a reservation at a restaurant touched by the Henderson name – whether it’s Soho’s The French House, East London’s Rochelle Canteen or St John in Clerkenwell. It’s ablaze with praise and full stomachs.
But instead of finding another spot in the city to bring the best of British produce alive, Margot Henderson decided to take her culinary knowledge to the countryside at The Three Horseshoes.
Spearheaded by private businessman Max Wigram, who bought the 17th-century property post-lockdown, he decided to reimagine the antiquated pub through the eyes of interior designer Frances Penn, landscape architect Libby Russell and with the culinary oversight of Henderson.
The result: a five-bedroom gastro pub that welcomes muddy welly boots, large appetites and an appreciation for unfussy classics.
Taking the 14:30 train from Paddington, I decided to look beyond the buzz of central London and head to the slightly quieter and far more green Somerset to experience a dinner service under the supervision of Henderson.
After a taxi ride as idyllic as the Jane Austen novels have written before, with undulating hills, quaint villages and the richness of unpolluted air whistling through the open windows, The Three Horseshoes finally revealed itself in the heart of Batcombe.
A limestone pathway guides you into the pub through a wildflower garden pruned with apple trees, blooming roses and scattered wooden tables to enjoy your pint on. Inside, a rustic, wood-beam ceiling two-part restaurant is split by a wood-burning fire.
On one side, the eating takes priority and on the other, the bar takes centre stage. On offer, you were able to sip your favourites from Guinness, Negronis and Bloody Marys (definitely worth ordering), to trying local heroes like Wiper & True IPAs, Burrow Hill cider and Bristol-based Pasetti & Boote juices. All worth a mention.
Upstairs, the five-rooms feel familiar, comfy and homely. Equipped with huge bathtubs worthy of sinking into until you prune, Reylon beds large enough for families and views that you wish you could take with you, it’s more than worth booking for a convenient walk back “home”.
But, the main event is of course the food. In true Henderson spirit, it’s British through and through, locally sourced and dependent on season. With a menu printed for that day, I took a seat at one of the wooden tables and attempted to pick what I wanted to eat – naturally, this was proving difficult.
However, before I had to make that all-important decision, I ordered a bottle of 2019 Claret Bordeaux from St John Wines – a familiar pig drawing on the bottle reaffirmed the Henderson experience with its smooth and moreish taste.
Steak with Bone Marrow
After much deliberation and a glass of wine later, I opted for the Beetroot, Soft Boiled Egg and Red Onion to start while my partner chose the Fried Red Mullet and Tartare Sauce. Both are generous in portion and finished with clean plates.
What was most noticeable was how fresh the ingredients were. When something as simple as some vegetables and an egg can make you sit in silence nodding your head in enjoyment, you realise the power of seasonality.
For the main course and with Game season upon us, I decided on Patridge with Red Cabbage and Bread Sauce while my other half decided on Pork Collar, Crown Prince Squash and Sage. Somewhat gluttonous but worth the slight embarrassment of unbuttoning my jeans, what isn’t there to like about local Somerset meat and a glass of wine?
Unfalteringly simple combinations that have stood the test of time. There is no point in overdoing it with sides and marinades, well-cooked meat should always be at the front and centre of a dish.
Chicken and Leek Pie with Mash Potato
To finish, I shared a scoop of homemade Rum & Raisin ice cream – with an emphasis on the rum. It took the idea of a boozy pudding and one upped it; brace yourself.
If you have the chance to pop down to Somerset to book a table, swing by for a pint and Scotch Egg or decide to experience the full package with an overnight stay, you know you’re in for a treat.
Henderson knows how to put together a plate of food which is nostalgic in nature and rich in British produce. It never gets old nor does it ever get boring. If anything, please can I have some more?
by Imogen Clark
Telephone 01749 326147
Monday to Sunday 12pm – 11pm