Pub review - The Vobster, Lower Vobster, near Bath

By Mark Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Restaurant Curry

The Vobster Since moving from Australia to this small village, proprietors Chris and Lizzie Matthews have turned the long, farmhouse-style building...

The Vobster

Since moving from Australia to this small village, proprietors Chris and Lizzie Matthews have turned the long, farmhouse-style building into a destination dining pub of note. For a secluded Mendips inn, the Vobster has one of the most impressive seafood and fresh fish menus I've seen outside of Cornwall or Devon.

But the menus aren't entirely restricted to the fruits of the sea, and although vegetarians may be faced with a limited choice, meat eaters are well catered for. A section of the menu entitled "West Country Meat" ranges from homemade lamb and winter vegetable faggots served with mash, to chargrilled 10oz rib-eye steaks with black pepper sauce.

Of the nine starters on the à la carte lunchtime menu on this visit, seven were seafood-based, but the duck and pistachio terrine and the salad of duck leg with crispy greens and soy dressing proved interesting diversions.

Sensibly, the Vobster also offers a broader winter lunch menu with generous helpings of more traditional dishes (sliced roasted gammon with double egg and chips, goujons of Cornish cod with chips) - none of which exceeded £8.50.

On a bitterly cold lunchtime, Bookbinder red snapper soup served with dry sherry (£6.50) was the perfect winter warmer, being rich and not overly fishy or sweet. The small glass of sherry poured into the soup added an extra kick.

Of the 10 seafood main courses - with Indian Ocean tuna, Cornish sea bass, squid, Newlyn Plaice, skate wing and Cornish haddock all making an appearance - I plumped for the pan-fried Cornish hake with preserved lemon and black olive cous cous (£12.50). This enormous tranche of firm white fish had been timed to the second and was moist and juicy.

The accompanying mound of cous cous was jewelled with tiny dices of Mediterranean vegetables and a heady thwack of garlic dressing.

But the Thai red curry of seafood (£14.50) stole the show - spicy, rich, packed with scallops, monkfish, king prawns and squid and flecked with fresh coriander, it was a riot of complementary flavours.

Cheese is taken as seriously as seafood at the Vobster, and a detailed sheet listing a roll call of five fine West Country truckles (£6.50 for generous slices of each with crackers or bread) included Green's of Glastonbury cheddar and the exemplary Exmoor Blue from Bishops Lydeard.

The Vobster is a unique pub dining experience, one of the jewels in Somerset's culinary crown and a must-visit for seafood lovers.

PubChef Rating (out of 10)

Ambiance 8, Value for money 8,

Flavour factor 9, Overall Impression 9

BEERS: Butcombe Bitter and Wadworth 6X

MAIN COURSES: From £9.50 to £15.50

WINES ON LIST: eight reds, seven whites, one rosé, two Champagne or sparkling. Seven available by the glass including Gumdale Chardonnay (Australia) and Mount Marble Shiraz (South Africa).

ANOTHER THING: The Vobster has regular fish nights and special lunchtime promotions, including the Taste Of The Med luncheon featuring a main course and dessert for £9.95.

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