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The Drovers Inn in Gussage all Saints

Reviewed May 2012

The-Drovers-Inn-beer-gardenGussage all Saints lies in a vale on Cranborne Chase, 8 miles North-East of Blandford Forum and 10 miles North of Wimborne Minster. Many similar medieval villages nearby such as Knowlton, Bowerswain and Brockington have long since vanished – Knowlton was wiped out by the Black Death in 1485, but Gussage All Saints has survived and flourishes.

Fortunately for the locals and for those who enjoy hiking or cycling along Ackling Dyke, the Roman Road linking Badbury Rings with Sarum, the inn has also survived. The Drovers Inn was rescued from closure in 2000 by Ringwood Brewery and has cellars reputedly haunted by a highwayman! Marston’s recent purchase of Ringwood Brewery hasn’t harmed the selection of beer one little bit with at least four Ringwood beers on tap togetherThe-Drovers-Inn with guest beers, cider, lager and a good selection of wines and sprits on offer. The Drovers is a dog and family friendly pub and Jason, the owner for the past ten years, is very proud of the beautiful views over the rolling hills of the Chase from the peaceful beer garden at the front of the pub.

Speaking of gardens, Jason is so passionate about using really local and fresh ingredients, (Butchers from Whiteparish, fish from Allenbrook Trout Farm and a Poole Fishmongers, and game from Local Estates, Farms and Gamekeepers etc), that he has planted his own kitchen garden and orchard at the pub!

Jason is also fanatical about cooking without microwaves whenever possible and uses traditional pans and ovens to bring out the full flavour of the ingredients.

Various awards are proudly hung in the bar such as “Beautiful Beer-Gold Award”, the “Cask Marque Certificate of Excellence” and “BeDrovers-inglenookst Dorset Country Pub of the Year 2006”. Enough said!

The pub interior is classic traditional ”olde worlde” style complete with a roaring log fire in the beautiful inglenook for cold winter evenings, flagstone floors and an eclectic mix of oak furniture – absolutely perfect for such an ancient village. Next comes the important bit – the food!

The main menu which changes regularly includes starters such as the intriguing sounding Mussels and Dorset Pancetta cooked in Thyme and Cider. Whereas main courses feature the ultimate meal for two steak-lovers to share – The Drovers Chop which is a 1kg Dorset Aged Porterhouse Beef Steak with all the accompaniments! Other choices include Dorset Guinea Fowl, Moor Crichel Pork Chop and many other local dishes which come with local side dishes like Dorset Miniature Leaves and Dorset Blue Vinney etc. And then there are the specials!   

Drovers-blackboardFreshly Baked Crusty Bread with Dipping Oils and a selection of Olives duly arrived whilst we studied the menu. All the bread and pasta dough is made on the premises and Jason is happy to help with any specific dietary requirements.

The Drovers is very proud of its selection of proper home-made food for children prepared from fresh ingredients just like grown-up food and even pureed homemade baby food for the smallest of Drovers! The Drovers is very flexible and is happy to  supply any combination of meals such as two starters and chips for example and smaller portions if required.

For starters my husband chose the delicious crispy Deep Fried Whitebait served with a fresh Dorset leaf salad and garnished with a chunky, real, homemade tartare sauce! My choice of the Sauted King Prawns in Garlic Butter was just enough to wet my appetite for the next course!Sauteed-King-Prawns

My main course selection was from the Specials and I chose the succulent Roast Shoulder of Dorset Lamb served with Roast Potatoes, Parsnips and Seasonal Vegetables. My husband meanwhile was intrigued by the Allenbrook Artic Char from the main menu which was served with Brown Shrimps, Capers and Parsley which arrived on a bed of beautifully cooked crispy chips. An excellent alternative to salmon.

The Arctic Char farmed at Allenbrook Trout Farm resembles a salmon in appearance but with a milder more delicate taste not dissimilar to trout and is gradually becoming a popular alternative to the increasingly scarce wild salmon.

Fish is generally featured more during the summer months whereas a varying selection of inventive game dishes are offered during the winter season. These can include rabbit, hare, venison, pheasant and even squirrel satay has appeared on occasion!

Finally, with just enough room left for a taste of Jason’s melt in the mouth homemade pastry, we sampled portions of homemade Plum Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream and Lemon Tart with cream!

If the excellent cuisine and ale is still not enough to attract you, then they have Live Bands on the last Friday of each month, Beer Festivals, Curry nights, Poachers Nights, Game nights (to celebrate the end of the game Season) and even a Safari night is planned for the future with Jason creating dishes from Ostrich or Water Buffalo for instance!

Jason very much looks forward to welcoming many of our readers to the Drovers soon – see the website for more details.