A TASTING menu is a great showcase for a chef’s creations and the ten mini courses we experienced at Abbots Court were the work of culinary genius.

Abbots Court, which opened last month on the Drax Estate, is a seven-bedroom luxury bed and breakfast, run by Jez and Niki Barfoot - founders of the award-winning Tickled Pig restaurant in Wimborne.

Farrow & Ball sponsored the refurbishment so the interiors are as stunning as you might expect in keeping with the historic property’s rural location.

But back to the food which started with pre-dinner G&Ts made with local Conker gin in front of a roaring log fire and a selection of home-made nibbles - spicy rice crackers, root vegetable crisps and pork crackling. (As preambles to an evening meal go, it doesn’t get much better than this!)

Shortly after we were seated in the dining room we were presented with warm, home-made mini bloomers and granary loaves with pale green orbs of chive butter. Our first course was beetroot soup topped with candied pumpkin seeds and fried sage followed by carpaccio of New Forest venison with truffle mayonnaise, capers and onions.

One of the highlights for me were the Cornish mussels served on a bed of spicy puy lentils and topped with a mini onion bhaji – an inspired combination of textures and flavours.

The salt baked carrots, served with gnocchi and fennel cream, and the deconstructed fish pie were also a revelation - each dish was elegant and exquisite in equal measure.

For the full review see next month’s edition of Dorset Living.