An opportunity to enjoy some of the first warm weather of the year isn’t missed as Robin Goodlad pops into this country pub for some outdoor eating
A charming and inviting brick-built inn dating back to 1713, sitting on the crest of a hill, next to the village green in the beautiful village of Holt is The Old Inn. As you enter there is an immediately inviting and welcoming atmosphere, with the bricks and beams adding a huge amount of character inside, and log fireplaces for those cooler evenings.
Perfectly situated and accessible from all around, The Old Inn is the ideal place to while away a spring or summer evening at sunset, with views to the west over the Dorset fields. One thing that sets The Old Inn apart, however, is the outside terrace, lounge, and garden area, which really maximises the opportunity for al fresco dining, whatever the state of the weather. A Hall & Woodhouse inn, it is currently in the care of Simon Pickup, who welcomes guests and locals alike with great charm, and has really explored and developed how The Old Inn can best support and serve its community, and it is clearly enjoyed by those from the village. The oak-made terrace evokes memories of summer holidays abroad, which to me is a very good thing, with covers on the sides for cooler evenings, and plenty of heaters. The covered well makes a great centrepiece for socialising, whilst the outside covered cosy lounge area has button back leather chairs around a log burner, and there is a real feel of summer, even in early spring. The Old Inn also show films in their outdoor cinema during the summer – another perfect way to enjoy the al fresco evenings, and to make a visit here really unique. The latest addition this year is a wood-fired pizza oven, definitely the focus on the terrace, where flames can be seen licking its ceiling, stonebaking the most magical pizzas at 400°C in less than a minute. It’s the best kind of fast food.
To start, I had the deep-fried Camembert, which was delicious, especially accompanied with the Canaletto Pinot Grigio. The main course could only be one option really – I just had to try one of their fabulous wood fired pizzas, and I opted for the ‘Old Inn’, the perfect combination of sun dried tomatoes, oregano, olives and anchovies. It was a real joy to see the pizza being made in the outside kitchen, then exposed to the searing heat, baking in seconds. A perfect puffy dough and stonebaked crust, with the intense flavour of quality Mediterranean ingredients, one of the best, if not the best, pizza I have tasted in a long time. Being able to see the whole process adds a real authenticity, and dining in the afternoon sun was simply glorious. There are other enticing pizza options as well, such as ‘Vesuvius’ and ‘Porkies’, which I will have to try on a return visit.
To finish the meal I had the divine hazelnut brownie, served with homemade vanilla ice cream, the fresh vanilla seeds adding to the flavour beautifully. Aside from their new pizza speciality, The Old Inn has an extensive menu, comprising mainly a great range of pub classics, including Dorset ham, steak and kidney pie, and their signature Dorset red meat burger, and plenty of vegetarian options, including goats cheese and apricot nut roast, and mushroom and spinach pie.
Equally as satisfying as the food, the drinks list offers an excellent selection of wines and, of course, hand-pulled Badger ales on tap, including First Call and Tanglefoot, as well as many more in bottles.
Enjoying one last drink on the patio in the late afternoon spring sunshine was a real treat, and I will definitely be back for more to make the most of the summer evenings, whatever the weather.
The Old Inn
Holt, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 7DJ