- Eating Out - Lifestyle

Fresh-Air Feasting

Posted: 06th May 2021

With outdoor dining on the menu until 17th May, we’ve rounded up ten of the best places to feast al fresco in Somerset and Dorset, so grab your coat – and book to eat out. Literally.


The Red Lion, Babcary

Photo credit: Red Lion Babcary

Why: Made the recent Daily Mail list, ‘100 Best Places to Eat and Drink outside in England,’ compiled by Tom Parker Bowles.

Where: Outside in their garden at picnic benches and in an open-sided marquee. In a village near Glastonbury.

What: Wood-fired pizzas, pub classics like fish and chips and burgers and restaurant dishes like Dorset Crab on Toast, Grilled Chicken Shawarma Salad and Pork Belly with Asian Slaw and Honey Mustard

Booking: A must. 01458 223230

Current opening hours: Monday- Friday 12-3pm and 6-11pm. All day Saturday. Sundays 12-6pm.

Tell me more: redlionbabcary.co.uk

The Newt in Somerset, near Bruton

Photo credit: The Newt in Somerset

Why: Take afternoon tea al fresco at Somerset’s exquisite country estate, on their terrace that overlooks the gardens – visit them afterwards at no extra cost.

Where: Between Castle Cary and Bruton – drive or take the train (details on their website).

What: Afternoon tea: Finger sandwiches, cakes, scones with Somerset clotted cream and jam. Blended teas and cocktails. £35 per head, minimum table for two.

Booking: Absolutely.  TeaontheTerrace

Current opening hours: 12-4pm Weekends. Ongoing.

Tell me more: thenewtinsomerset.com

At the Chapel, Bruton

Photo credit: At the Chapel

Why: You’ll be seated on a south-facing terrace scented with jasmine plants

Where: Under canvas, outside. Find the restaurant right on Bruton High Street.

What: Find the full menu on their website, catering from breakfast through to supper and including such delights as Sandridge Farm Bacon Sandwich, South Coast line-caught mackerel, fennel, watercress and Limoncello Mess.

Booking: Yes. atthechapel.co.uk

Current opening Hours: All day, every day (8am-8pm). Subject to weather.

The Bishop’s Eye, Wells

Photo credit: The Bishop’s Eye

Why: You won’t feel like you’re sinning when you drink fine wine (or draught beer) in the shadow of Wells’ awe-inspiring ecclesiastical architecture. The restaurant is in the former gateway building to The Bishop’s Palace.

Where: On the pavement and in the market square at the front of the restaurant. Gazebos provided in case of rain.

What: Sumptuous meat, fish, vegetarian and cheese grazing platters

Booking: Please. bishopseye.co.uk

Current opening Hours: Mon-Weds, 9am-7pm, Thurs-Sat, 9am-10pm and Sunday 10am-4pm


The Litton, Litton, near Wells

Photo credit: The Litton

Why: Plenty of outside seating, either in The Courtyard, or on the Riverside Terrace. Both now have permanent, waterproof canvas covers, complete with heaters and blankets. You can also sit in the garden when the weather is fine.

Where: The little village of Litton is near Chewton Mendip and on the banks of the River Chew.

What: The Litton’s mission statement is “Traditionally Untraditional” and literally has two different menus. One side of the menu lists pub classics like fish and chips or burgers, while the other side is more foodie, serving dishes like Pan fried Hake with Dressed Heirloom Tomatoes, Romesco Sauce and Samphire Sea Herbs.

Booking: Advised. Ring them on 01761 241 554 or book online thelitton.co.uk

Current opening hours: 10am-9pm Sun-Thursday, 10am-10pm Friday & Saturday



The Salt Cellar, Shaftesbury

View of Gold Hill

Why: Lap up the iconic view of Gold Hill and the Blackmore Vale beyond with a latte.

Where: At the top of Gold Hill in Shaftesbury. Take the weight off on one of the wooden seats outside the Salt Cellar and the Gold Hill Museum. Dogs welcome.

What: A day-tripper-friendly menu of freshly-prepared salads, paninis, pies etc. And coffee and cake of course.

Booking: First come, first served. See thesaltcellargoldhill.co.uk for details

Current Opening hours: Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm


The Kings Arms, Charlton Horethorne

Photo credit: The King’s Arms

Why: This much-loved country hotel is as welcoming as it is stylish. Currently serving food on new tables in their delightful garden. They’ve recently purchased a “Big Green Egg” barbeque, renowned for its excellent charcoal grilling.

Where: Picturesque village just outside Sherborne

What: A mix of British favourites like Flat-Iron steak burger and pizzas alongside good quality restaurant staples like Roast Rump of Lamb.

Booking: Essential, as there are only three sittings each day at 12pm, 3pm and 6pm. Ring 01963 220281

Current Opening hours: Thurs-Sunday until 17th May. See more thekingsarms.co.uk


Compton McCrae, Semley

Photo credit: Compton McCrae

Why: Owners Bill and Caroline describe their menu as “good quality café food” which they’re currently serving at uncovered picnic benches and in a marquee outside their deli and eaterie.

Where: On an old dairy farm at Semley, a village about 6 miles from Shaftesbury.

What: A lunch table piled high with freshly made sausage rolls, quiches, scotch eggs, small pies, salads and a daily lunch menu of 3-4 different dishes which change daily, like rare Roast Beef and Yorkshire puddings or Roast Atlantic salmon with noodles. They’re also licenced for wine and beer and serve great coffee too.

Booking: For marquee only, by phone or email. Find more info here www.comptonmcrae.com

Current opening hours: Mon-Saturday 9am-4pm weekdays and 9-3pm on a Saturday


The Hive Beach Café, Burton Bradstock

Photo credit: Hive Beach Cafe

Why: Eat while drinking in breathtaking views of the Jurassic coast.

Where: On a hillside cliff at Burton Bradstock beach, in between Weymouth and Bridport. Choose from a choice of uncovered, outside seating or one of two marquees.

What: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee and cake but The Hive is predominantly known for seafood.

Booking: First come, first served.

Current opening hours: All day, every day, 9.30am-7pm. See website for service hours www.hivebeachcafe.co.uk


The Cross Keys, Sherborne

Photo credit: The Cross Keys

Why: Perfect your people-watching skills on The Parade (central marketplace) at the front of the pub or stay dry in the covered courtyard at the back.

Where: Just around the corner from Sherborne Abbey

What: Seasonally-inspired dishes made from locally-sourced and/or artisan ingredients. Cassoulet, mussels and steak all on the menu, as well as burgers in brioche buns.

Booking: Yes please. Use the new online booking system. thecrosskeyssherborne.com

Current opening hours: Wednesday -Sunday 8am – 2pm, Thursday, Friday & Saturday 5 – 8.30pm


At the time of writing this article all information is correct. Please note the above may be subject to change and we advise contacting the eateries before heading out.