Ru­ral chic

JANE CLARK finds mod­ern style mixed with warm hos­pi­tal­ity at a pretty vil­lage pub

Somerset Life - - REVIEW -

The Ris­ing Sun at West Bag­bor­ough has re­sponded to the sub­tle but in­flu­en­tial changes in mod­ern ru­ral life. It is a pic­turesque road­side pub with benches out­side, on a quiet road in the vil­lage. The bar has a slate floor and wooden beams but it’s clev­erly done with plenty of light and space. This means the lo­cals use it, quite nat­u­rally, as a meet­ing point. It gets busy and this cre­ates a buzz and in­ter­est.

The restau­rant is the other side of a wooden panel and cre­ates its own at­mos­phere; away from the drinkers and def­i­nitely chic. The staff are well in­formed and qui­etly en­thu­si­as­tic. Our waiter was, quite lit­er­ally, the boy next door. Find­ing peo­ple who can chat ca­su­ally and in­tel­li­gently to cus­tomers and yet bal­ance that with prompt and ef­fec­tive ser­vice is an art. I have known res­tau­ra­teurs tear their hair out when bore­dom and dis­in­ter­est has bub­bled up through the ranks. It can wreck even the most beau­ti­fully ap­pointed hostelry; bad ser­vice is a blight that kills its host.

The food is mod­ern Euro­pean and the menu changes fre­quently. Starters in­cluded flat­breads with Mediter­ranean top­pings; my choice and it was de­li­cious. Or there were mus­sels, soup, gar­lic mush­rooms or fish­cakes. For mains there was fish, seafood, steak and a veg­e­tar­ian dish. The list isn’t long but the food is ac­com­plished, nicely sea­soned and fea­tures imag­i­na­tive com­bi­na­tions and sauces. I had cod with fresh lime and ca­per dress­ing. It was light and tangy. For dessert we shared a rhubarb and cus­tard dish. It was a pretty dessert in three parts with rhubarb jelly, rasp­berry marsh­mal­low and a rasp­berry gel and fresh cream mille feuille. The fruit was fresh picked from their gar­den and the dish looked noth­ing short of jewel-like and a was a de­light to eat. I also tasted their rich and pi­quant choco­late delice; glossy and dark it was full of flavour and not over sweet.

The Ris­ing Sun has nailed it. It is smart with a heart. Its cus­tomers look happy, suc­cess­ful and pros­per­ous. The land­lady, Linda Palk, is a no­tice­ably sharp dresser with a quick mind. She waits at the ta­bles, sits at the bar and chats, and is ut­terly im­mersed in her work. She seems to have a firm grip and yet a light touch over all as­pects of her busi­ness, from her staff and dé­cor to the food. This lovely pub is man­aged with ob­vi­ous pas­sion.

The place was busy and the at­mos­phere was good. I love eat­ing where you can see all ages. Soft light­ing and imag­i­na­tive use of space, fur­ni­ture and fab­rics give a com­fort­able and cosy feel but in a mod­ern and stylish man­ner. This one is worth the drive and if you’re a lo­cal then count your­self lucky. theris­ing­sun­bag­bor­

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