BEYOND DEVON: Culinary Adventures in Wimborne, Dorset.

Back in August we went to visit our good friends & Eating Exeter co-founder, Polly and her lovely other half Rob.  I wrote this post and then got distracted by the arrival of the new academic year, but now I have managed to muster enough energy to finish it!  Last year Polly and Rob moved to Wimborne in Dorset, which I have grown quite attached to.

Wimborne is a small town that lies about 10 miles from Bournemouth.  There are no motorways in this part of the world which makes the 70 mile journey from Exeter is one of the most scenic that we make on a semi-regular basis.  Heading to Honiton you vault over the Blackdown Hills and descend into the beautiful Ax Valley along the curves and undulations of the A35.  Its after Axminster that the countryside starts to change.

As you head past Bridport, you follow the coast for a bit and eventually hit Dorchester.  Driving past the vast intimidating gates of Charborough House which is occupied by the Tory MP Richard Drax (boo!) and is definitely not a National Trust property, you’re straight on to Wimborne which is only a few miles away from that point.  Fun fact: The brick wall that lines the A31 as you drive past the Charborough Estate is one of the longest in the UK.

Wimborne is a town that has some strict planning laws.  But this has meant that the general feeling of the town has not changed much in the last hundred years.  It has one of the best collections of 15th, 16th and 17th century building fronts around the square which has preserved the character of the town, but this only lasts until you go further over towards the river, where it gets a little bit…well…eighties.

I like this town, its immensely unoffensive.  The people are generally nice, we’ve had some fun times within the walls of some of the 14 or 15 pubs, and many of the pubs offer Badger Ales on draught given the fact its so close to the Badger Ales brewery.

Our little weekend getaway was to be punctuated with a visit to River Cottage HQ’s awesome summer fair on the Sunday afternoon, but before this, we sampled a couple of the culinary delights that Wimborne has kept hidden.  This was ‘hidden Wimborne’

The Riverside Cafe (or The Haunted Cafe) was our first taste of this hidden town.  A small cafe that lies on one of the small rivers that snake through the town.  If you didn’t know it was there, it would be easy to miss but we were in the hands of our gastronomic guides.

TripAdvisor loves this cafe with a lot of excellent reviews.  And its easy to see why.  It has a lovely riverside location, you can eat your fry-up within the rippling of the water, and sit happy in the knowledge you’re unlikely to have to spend too much on your grub here.  I took Robs recommendation for the fish finger sandwich, which was immense and highly satisfying.

It has a large Saxon church called Wimborne Minster and it sits on the confluence of the River Stour and River Allen.  The tourist attractions of Wimborne appears to be the Wimborne Model Town, the minster and the Wimborne Covered Market.  The covered market was a vast sprawling car boot/antiques market that seemed to go on for miles.  So many random knick-knacks and second-hand items, I was very much in my element! 🙂

After a brief mooch around Wimborne afterwards, Pol took us to one of Dorset’s finest chocolate shops.  ChoccoCake which sits on East Street has won the Taste of Dorset Awards 2013 and is very proud of this fact, it is clear to see why when you taste some of their offerings.

They were not cheap, but the quality of the produce is worth every mouthful. We’re due to go back at the end of October, so I am sure we might pass through here again!

In Exeter, there is a lack of proper Italian restaurants. When I say ‘proper’, I mean the sort of restaurants that are run by actual Italians with straw covered jars on the wall and other rather stereotypical tweaks and quirks.  But Wimborne has the Topogigio Restaurant in Mill Street.

I went for the Diavolo Pizza. It was as spicy and diabolically hot as I had imagined, but not too much that I lept for the nearest glass of milk.  The restaurant is quite compact, lots of rustic red and browns give the place a cosy feeling, but with the seating feeling like it was designed for think people rather than those of us with bellies, it was a relief when we finished and I managed to stand outside of the restaurant, spinning my arms like a lunatic.

Seating aside, I would definitely go back.

Wimborne is due to see us again for halloween this weekend.  It won’t be the last time I’ll see its strange shops and its bizarre residents, and it won’t be the last time its mentioned on this blog either. 🙂

We’re going back to Wimborne soon.  This won’t be the last time I’ll write about it.

Places mentioned:

Chococake Ltd. – 18 East St, Wimborne BH21 1DT 01202 886563 –

Topogigio Restaurant – Mill Ln, Wimborne Minster BH21 1JQ 01202 841884 –

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