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Restaurant review: The Wine Bar, Gillingham, Dorset

The Wine Bar has been around for a while here in Gillingham but is now under new ownership and receiving rave reviews for the food and service – so last week we paid it a visit in order to check it out and report back.

Based on Queen Street, an easy walk from ‘Sunflowers’, The Wine Bar is open for lunch and dinner (closed on Mondays) and also offers a Sunday lunch carvery as well as a Wednesday evening “Steak Night Special”: two steaks with all the trimmings plus a bottle of wine for £30.00.

Upon arrival, we ordered our drinks in the “wine bar” part of the venue – a spacious room with lots of seating and comfortable sofas,  before being shown to our table in the HUGE dining area at the back (and there’s also a garden and a decked area for use in the summer).  Whilst we waited we were brought warm home made bread, hummus and baba ganoush, prior to the arrival of our main courses.

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Fillet of sesame crusted sea bass

I ordered a sesame crusted fillet of sea bass, which was served on a bed of ginger and coriander noodles and Steve opted for the house burger, which came stacked high as pictured here, complete with onion rings, chips, coleslaw and pickles. Both were excellent, in terms of both taste and presentation. We were served by the extremely friendly and helpful Sarah,  who handles front of house whilst her husband Arnie presides over the kitchen.

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The Puddings Board

We also checked out the puddings – on offer the week that we were there were the items listed here, of which we sampled the really excellent crème brulee,  but these change regularly (yum!)

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Crème brulee and blackcurrant sorbet

We’ll definitely be happy to send our guests there and to add The Wine Bar to our list of suggested local eating spots. A copy of the menu and walking directions on how to find the restaurant may be found in our in-room folders.

As always, our blog reviews are unbiased, are our own personal opinions and are based on a self-funded visit to the venue. 

The Wine Bar
20 Queen Street
Gillingham
Dorset
SP8 4DZ

Tel: 01747 825 825

Opening hours:

Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday: 12 noon to 3.00pm; 5.30pm – 10.00pm
Wednesday: 12 noon to 3.00pm; 5.30pm – 10.00pm
Thursday: 12 noon to 3.00pm; 5.30pm – 11.00pm
Friday: 12 noon to 3.00pm; 5.30pm – midnight
Saturday: 12 noon to 3.00pm; 5.30pm – midnight
Sunday: 12 noon to 4.00pm; 7.00pm – 10.00pm

Facebook page: click here

Enjoy a vegan breakfast as part of Veganuary 2018: special bed and breakfast vegan menu available, Gillingham, Dorset

Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras – check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.


Happy New Year!

In support of Veganuary 2018,  we’re launching a special vegan breakfast menu which will be available throughout January 2018 for anyone who requests it when they book directly with us.

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Avocado on sourdough toast

We’re committed to providing delicious, fresh and cooked to order breakfast options for all of our guests and if you’re a vegan or fancy trying out some delicious plant-based food as part of this year’s Veganuary, that includes you! We have vegetarian, vegan and plant-based menu options on offer all year round (as well as gluten-free, dairy-free, low carb and paleo selections) but for January 2018,  here’s a couple of extra new things to try.

 

Our Veganuary options include:

  • Tofu Scramble: tofu scrambled with your choice of tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and spring onions
  • Porridge made with almond milk and served with fresh berries and maple syrup
  • Avocado on sourdough toast
  • A signature ‘Sunflowers’ parfait made with coconut or vanilla soya yoghurt, gluten-free oats, home-made fruit compote, topped with fresh berries and mint
  • The ‘Sunflowers’ Smoothie: banana, almond milk, cinnamon and mixed berries
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The ‘Sunflowers’ signature parfait – now available as dairy-free

Our regular vegan-friendly menu items are also always available – baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes or spinach in any combination you like, as well as cereals served with your choice of plant milks, dishes of fresh fruit or fruit compote and coconut or vanilla soya yoghurt.

 

We cook with olive or coconut oils and unsweetened almond and soya milks are available for breakfast and in the guest fridge as standard, year round. And we’ll replace the biscuits on the amenity tray in the bedrooms with vegan-friendly treats, too.

For more on Veganuary, please see their website and to book your vegan-friendly stay with us, please see our booking calendar – don’t forget to let us know that you’d like to try out the limited edition Veganuary menu when you book!

Christmas present idea – ‘Sunflowers’ B&B in Gillingham, Dorset gift certificates are now available!

Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras – check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.


gift_vouchers_main.jpgLooking for an easy gift and a way to share our famous hospitality, great breakfasts and a taste of Dorset with someone this Christmas?

‘Sunflowers’ gift vouchers are now available, in multiples of £25. Each gift certificate is personally designed for the recipient and can feature their name,  the occasion or celebration and can show the value of the gift or be left blank (eg:”This certificate entitles you to a one night stay at ‘Sunflowers’ Bed & Breakfast Dorset, to include two Special Breakfasts and Use of the Hot Tub”) – feel free to ask us to personalise it with whatever you like – perhaps add on a stay for their dog too,  or a complimentary bottle of Prosecco?

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Cheers!

Just email or call us with your request – payment can be made by credit/debit card, PayPal or BACS. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

 

Gift certificates are supplied via an emailed PDF within 48 hours of receipt of the order and payment.

Come and celebrate New Year’s Eve 2017 at Sunflowers Bed and Breakfast in Gillingham, Dorset

Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras – check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.

wp-1480616391114.jpgChristmas is coming … and so is New Year’s Eve! We still have some rooms available,  so why not plan to see in 2018 in style here in Gillingham, Dorset?

We were fully booked for New Year’s Eve 2016, so don’t miss out in 2017 – book online today and you will enjoy a two night package which includes:

  • A welcome cocktail* upon arrival
  • Early check in: from 2.00pm
  • Your choice of one of our two lovely double en-suite rooms
  • Access to the undercover, candle-lit hot tub, complete with legendary floating drinks tray!
  • Fluffy robes and pool towels
  • Complimentary Prosecco* on New Year’s Eve
  • Upgraded breakfast options on New Year’s Day – choose from the Full Dorset or one of our famous Specials
  • Served with Buck’s Fizz* made with freshly squeezed orange juice.
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Happy New Year!

Click here to book and we look forward to meeting you in December!

The small print:

> This package is only available to guests who book directly with us via our website. It is not available through any other channel.

 > The package applies to a booking across a minimum of two nights, one to be 31st December 2017.

 > Non-alcoholic beverage options are available upon request in exchange for all items marked *

> Bookings are final and non-refundable in the event of a cancellation, unless we are able to re-sell the room, in which case our standard cancellation policy will apply.

 

 

 

Recipe share: home made mixed berry compote – as served for breakfast at Sunflowers BnB, Gillingham, Dorset

Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras – check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.

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Sunflowers fruit and yoghurt breakfast parfait

This home made fruit compote recipe is so versatile! I like to use it (as shown here) as one of the layers in my signature ‘Sunflowers’ breakfast parfait; it also pairs beautifully in a breakfast bowl with Dorset’s answer to Greek yoghurt from The Dorset Dairy Company – or you could try a spoonful on your porridge.  I’m sure it counts as one of your five a day too, and it can be made sugar-free – so why not make yourself a batch to try?

 

HOME MADE MIXED BERRY COMPOTE

For a portion with two good servings:

2 cups of fresh or frozen mixed berries
2 tablespoons Stevia (or golden granulated sugar, if you prefer, to taste)
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Add all the ingredients to a medium sized saucepan; stir and then bring to the boil.

Allow to simmer for around 20 minutes.

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Home made mixed berry compote

Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly and then, depending on how thick you’d like the compote to be, either: press through a seive (this creates a very smooth compote, good for use in desserts, drizzling over ice cream and so on) OR use a stick blender to whizz the fruit to your desired consistency OR do as I do and gently press with a potato masher – this means that you can control the consistency and thus leave a mixture of whole and pureed fruit pieces.

 

Enjoy!

(This is just one of many delicious breakfast options – remember that we’re currently running a special offer: just use the discount code WINTER when you book online and you can treat yourself to your choice of breakfast upgrades during your November or December 2017 stay with us.)

Special Offer: FREE breakfast upgrades during November and December 2017!

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Use code WINTER

We run special offers and discounts all year round, so do keep an eye on the Special Offers page which is where you’ll find the codes you need in order to grab a bargain when you book directly with us.

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Enjoy a Dorset cooked breakfast

As the end of the year approaches,  the code you’re going to want to use during November and December 2017 is WINTER. Just use it when you book with us and each member of your group will receive a FREE BREAKFAST UPGRADE for each morning of your stay. So easy but so good!

There’s no catch or small print. No minimum stay, no room restrictions.  Just make your booking directly with us, come and stay on any of our open dates during November and December and boom – enjoy a Free Breakfast Upgrade to such popular dishes as Trout Florentine, a full Cooked Dorset Breakfast or even one of our legendary Specials if you’re here over a weekend or if you let us know that you’re celebrating.

wp-image-613988644Check out the menu and some photos here.

And? If you have family or friends in Gillingham, Dorset and want to squeeze in a seasonal visit over Christmas or the New Year,  we’re currently open and taking bookings from December 26th onwards (and yes, the Free Breakfast Upgrade offer applies over the final week of 2017, too).

Ready, steady, click and we look forward to meeting you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

Recipe share: delicious Parmesan Shortbreads, made for my B&B guests here in Gillingham, Dorset!

Warning: these tasty little savoury biscuits are so extremely easy to make BUT so extremely addictive that I don’t recommend making them if you’re on a diet, trying to cut down on snacking or feeling like you ought to avoid cheese. Or carbs.

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Parmesan Shortbreads

If, however,  none of the above apply, then here’s the recipe, originally published in Nigella Lawson’s Italian inspired recipe book Nigellissima.  I last made Parmesan Shortbreads a few weeks ago and served them to my weekend guests with some complimentary Prosecco; they were a huge hit and are the perfect thing to offer with a welcome drink.

I make the dough in the mixer, then roll it out and chill in the fridge for a few hours. Then simply slice, bake and serve.  So, so good.  Consider yourself warned!

20171005_175629.jpgIngredients:

  • 150 grams plain flour
  • 75 grams grated Parmesan cheese
  • 100 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg yolk

And here’s the rest of the recipe.

20171006_130157.jpgLike the look of these? Request them when you book and I’ll happily make you a batch to say “Welcome to Sunflowers” when you check in!

Three Great Dog Friendly Pubs near Gillingham in North Dorset

We love dogs – and of course, we’re a dog friendly bed and breakfast! So we enjoy meeting your canine friends and making everyone in your group feel welcome and at home. Your dogs are welcome to join you in the bedroom and we even provide complimentary dog treats, handmade with love by my friend Julie at Dorset Dog Delights. Please see our dog friendly page for more details and remember to use offer code MYDOGGY to receive a discount on stays of two or more nights in Room One – Church View. Click here to book.

Our eating out page contains suggestions of local Dorset eating and drinking spots and those which are dog friendly are marked as such.  But here’s a couple of pubs which we really recommend as being both dog and human friendly!

The Ship Inn, on the A30 at West Stour

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Our dog Peggy at The Ship Inn

This is our personal favourite pub – we go there a lot and always take our own guests for meals or just a drink.  It’s an independent pub with a wide range of beers available (it won the Wessex CAMRA Pub of the Year award in 2016) and it even has a gin menu! The food is also great and booking is a must. We love it for Sunday lunch – Steve is a big fan of the three meat roast (and so is Peggy, our dog!). Open daily, but closed for dinner on Sunday evenings. Dogs are welcome in the bar (not the restaurant) but the food, service and menu are the same in both. It’s owned and run by Gavin, a really friendly and welcoming bloke.  The car park is opposite the pub and you’ll need to cross the A30 on foot to get to/from your car. There are some nice fields opposite the pub for a pre or post pub visit dog walk.

The Coppleridge Inn, Elm Hill, Motcombe (between Gillingham and Shaftesbury)

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The view from the Coppleridge Inn, looking towards Shaftesbury

It’s worth visiting this pub just for the superb drive – the daylight views between ‘Sunflowers’ and your destination are absolutely stunning and you get a beautiful view of the Blackmore Vale once you arrive. (Ask us for directions,  as your sat-nav/GPS may send you a different way). Another favourite of ours, again for Sunday lunch or weeknight specials. Booking suggested at weekends. Dogs are allowed in the bar and conservatory. The restaurant area is quite ‘old school’ in terms of décor and atmosphere, so previous guests have told us that they prefer the vibe in the bar and conservatory; you may also prefer to book a table in there instead. Beautiful views towards Shaftesbury, a lovely lane for a dog walk and lots of on-site parking.

The Grove Arms, Ludwell, near Shaftesbury (on the A30)

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Menu options

Boutique style pub on the A30, just outside Shaftesbury on the road to Salisbury. Fairly standard pub grub on offer for humans but there’s a special doggy menu available, with a “doggy dinner” on offer for £3.95!

 

 

Recipe share: how to make Kerry Apple Cake

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Dorset apples

Hello, autumn – the days are growing shorter, the trees are shedding their leaves onto my lawn and my neighbours are kindly leaving bags of windfall apples at their gates, free to anyone who cares to take them home.

This time last year, I shared a recipe for the very popular local Dorset Apple Cake, as made by my friend Debbie – give it a try, it’s delicious! And for 2017, here’s another recipe for an apple cake,  this time from Ireland.

Earlier this month, we took a short holiday of our own and spent a few days in Ireland – my family home and a place which is very dear to me. While we were there, I took a class at the highly recommended Dingle Cookery School and so spent the day with owner Muireann and chef Caroline, learning to make scones, traditional Irish brown soda bread, Dingle (lamb and vegetable) pies with hot water crust pastry, a locally caught fish dish with seasonal greens in a thyme dressing and finally – Kerry Apple Cake.

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Kerry Apple Cake

The cake is quite similar to the Dorset variety but has the addition, as you can see from my photo (taken on the day) of flaked almonds on the top. It’s absolutely delicious and is lovely cold or warm with some fresh whipped cream. Here’s Muireann’s recipe, shared with permission – enjoy.

You will need:

225g self-raising flour
110g sugar
110g butter, softened and cubed
4 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
1 tablespoon of Demerera sugar
25g flaked almonds

A 9″ deep greased tin

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C

Cream together the butter and sugar; beat in the eggs one at a time and add the milk. Sieve and fold in the flour. Stir in the peeled and sliced apples.

The mixture should be quite wet, like a thick batter; if a little dry, add a splash more milk.

Place in a cake tin and top with the flaked almonds and the brown sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Restaurant review: The Grill House, Gillingham, Dorset

The Grill House is the most recent addition to the selection of restaurants available here in Gillingham – and today we paid it a lunchtime visit in order to check it out and report back.

Based on South Street, an easy walk from ‘Sunflowers’, The Grill House opened in June 2017 on the site of what was the very popular SSK restaurant. The old building still retains many of the stripped back SSK features (exposed brick walls, vintage light fittings, lots of wood) and has a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

wp-1505396496704.The Grill House is currently running a very good “early bird” promotion; from 12 noon to 6pm, there’s a choice of a number of popular main dishes (burgers, mac and cheese, chicken, lasagne and so on) available for £10 including a drink (beer, house wine or a soft drink). The full menu is available to view here.

 

We tried out the burger (huge, and supplied with fries, onion rings and coleslaw) and the BBQ chicken and chorizo skewer (served with fries and a large green salad).  It was all very filling and was delivered by a really friendly waitress who provided us with great, prompt service.

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The Grill House burger

 

We’ll definitely be happy to send our guests there and to add The Grill House to our list of suggested local eating spots.

As always, our blog reviews are unbiased, are our own personal opinions and are based on a personal self-funded visit to the venue. Thank you to our recent guest Rebecca for her shot of the burgers!

The Grill House
South Street
Gillingham
Dorset
SP8 4AP

Tel: 01747 824 278

Open: Wednesday to Sunday, 12 noon to 9pm (8pm on Sundays). Booking strongly recommended for Friday and Saturday evenings.

Websitewww.thegrill-house.com – and there’s currently some money off deals on the home page (as at September 2017)