There are many reasons to move to Wimborne Minster, the pretty east Dorset market town at the confluence of the River Stour and the River Allen. It has some of the most beautiful 15, 16 and 17th Century architecture you will find in Pevsner, a 1930’s art deco cinema and theatre, the Tivoli, a wonderful Saxon church with Victorian and Gothic architecture church, a Priest’s House Museum and the highest life expectancy of anywhere in the UK.
And now we have found another reason. Number 9 Restaurant, in West Borough street, right at the heart of its bustling thoroughfares, is the sort of establishment that adds a nought to local house prices and joy to the hearts of its residents. Many beleaguered market towns in recessionary Britain would be so proud to have it in their midst.
The building itself dates from 1790, and one of the original brick and timber walls was found beneath a layer of plaster. The décor is light, bright, French country house meets Georgian parlour in feel. Toile de Jouie and stripy ticking linen upholstered chairs, glass chandeliers, wooden tables and floors, fresh summer flowers and French impressionist prints on the walls create a very peaceful, uncluttered, stylish and homely feel.
Outside there is a very large seating area on both sides of the building, and there is a very pretty cottage garden built into a walled bed. It is buzzing with honey bees and butterflies, and it provides an enchanting backdrop to an already handsome courtyard.
The Restaurant is owned by Roy and Linda Tazzyman, who are originally from Yorkshire, and the manageress, Helen, lives upstairs, in what would have been the bedrooms of this rich merchant’s house in the 18th Century. If these walls and cellars could talk, what a tale they would have to tell.
The service is excellent: bright and breezy waitresses are polite, cheery and enthusiastic to work here. And who wouldn’t be?
The Menus for both lunch and dinner feature very simple, seasonal and local food, created with confident and careful hands. Honeybrook Farm, a working Dorset farm for over 500 years, is one of their suppliers (http://honeybrook.org).
Here is a small taster of what you can look forward to: open steak or Dorset crab sandwiches; local cheese Ploughman’s Board; Old Sarum Blue and spinach, watercress and broad bean salad; poached and smoked salmon fishcakes with soft poached eggs; roast chicken with chorizo butter sauce and Parmiggiano crushed new potatoes; wild seabass and fennel cooked on the Plancha; salad of Honeybrook Farm ham hock; Raspberry and pink champagne jelly.
For pudding I enjoyed a classic homemade peach crumble served with lavender ice cream which was warm and cold, fragrant, soft and delicious.
There was a graduation ceremony that day at Wimborne Minster and the town was absolutely packed with parents, visitors and shoppers. The restaurant was full and then some, "Reserved" tags on nearly every single table, yet the ladies still managed smiles, speed, efficiency and good humour. It’s the Dorset air, the gentle, rural pace and the love of land, respect of good ingredients and passionate, simple cooking that have made Number 9 as successful as it is. Long may it continue. What a foodie find.
Number 9 restaurant,
Telephone: 01202 887557