As the new owner of a puppy, I am suddenly aware of having to check every single place I plan to visit to check if it is dog friendly.

That includes pubs, cafes and restaurants, and I have found a real mix in terms of those who welcome our four-legged friends and those who do not (which is perfectly fine, of course!).

Therefore I have decided to start writing this occasional eating out column purely for dog owners – so they can find good places to eat in Somerset alongside their pooch.

The column is called Mabel’s Table after our Maltese puppy Mabel, and the first place my wife and I checked out was The Holcombe, in the village of the same name.

Opened in 2021, following an extensive upgrade which was overseen by designer Annabelle Holland, The Holcombe is owned and run by gracious hosts, Alan Lucas and Caroline Gardiner, both trained chefs, passionate about growing food, sourcing locally from artisan producers, and protecting the environment.

After 30 years spent running successful London-based catering and event companies, Alan and Caroline decided to “escape to the country” and bought The Holcombe Inn in November 2019.

Covid restrictions forced their closure just a few months later and while closed, they took the opportunity to renovate and rebrand as The Holcombe. 

Both Caroline and Alan, along with their team, are passionate about sustainability and have made many new and recent improvements in this area.

The key focus of The Holcombe is the kitchen garden and poly tunnel which takes over the majority of the gardens - their passion has always been to grow more and deliver a fantastic garden to plate experience.

Certainly, food from the garden was at the heart of the selection of dishes Alan cooked for us. All were wonderfully varied, with a definite Asian influence on the flavours.

They exquisitely combined nuanced flavours and aromatic spices, with indulgent creaminess and rare international influences such as hung yoghurt.

There were succulent meats, cooked to perfection, with crisp textures and garden-grown vegetable garnishes.

Highlights for me included a Blue Vinney crème brulee with homemade walnut bread, and Buffalicious mozzarella with herb pesto and Parmesan crisp.

Both featured exciting, innovative flavours and highlight how The Holcombe is the sort of venue you would visit for a special occasion, when you feel you only deserve the best.

Mabel was warmly welcomed, and we felt comfortable enjoying a high quality meal while she quietly sat at our feet.