From The Web
“Like so many pubs, The Forester has been through a number of changes over the years but in the last few it’s hit gold. Whilst it has an upmarket feel (to me it’s not “pubby”), many local people use it and the food is excellent“
“We loved it – had a really nice dinner, everything was great“
“We are a walking group of seven men and two dogs who called in on Wednesday lunch time. We were made very welcome as were the dogs! We had a lovely lunch with extra special touches and great beer. Very much recommended.”
“Fantastic dining venue. Lovely building with super food and excellent staff. Great beers and wines too! Thoroughly recommended.”
“Taking a break on our way through to Salisbury from Seaton, we dropped in on the Foresters for the first time. I’m glad we did, as we had super meals (the fish was to die for) all in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Thanks.”
“I cant believe my luck in finding a great pub, with an amazing menu, which changes daily I might add, all food sourced localy and what a fantastic wine list. Well done guys we will return.”
“The Foresters at Donhead is an excellent pub with really nice and original food. The beer is well-kept and the wine list is good and without too much of a mark-up. BUT: THERE IS NO RAILWAY STATION IN SHAFTESBURY!! In the review of the Foresters it states that the nearest station is Shaftesbury” [The nearest Railway Station is in Tisbury.]
The Best in the area; this village gastroboozer continues to attract plaudits for its “very high standard of cuisine” and “nice people too”.
“Tipped as more a “top restaurant” than a gastropub (and certainly ‘worth the drive’), this ‘charming’, ‘cosy’ and ‘hospitable’ thatched inn, in a pretty village, attracts particular praise for ‘excellent fish’.”
Charles Campion Hauls an impressive catch at The Forester
“The pub has a well-deserved Michelin Bib Gourmand – it fits perfectly with the criteria of serving excellent food at reasonable prices”
You’ll find The Forester at Donhead St Andrew clinging onto the south west toe of Wiltshire. Dodge one way and you’re in Somerset, or Dorset, or Wiltshire. It’s a very beguiling bit of country with rolling hills, ancient woodlands and seriously expensive large houses. To confuse matters, there are two Donheads – St Andrew and St Mary.
Fly fishermen will note that Donhead St Mary is me source of the River Nadder, which then flows through Donhead St Andrew and onwards to nearby Salisbury. The country here abouts is riddled with chalk streams and there is a fledgling spring bubbling up in the garden of The Forester. The pub is large with several interconnecting rooms and bars, plus two private rooms that will seat a dozen diners around a large table. Casting an eye around the car park, it’s hard to overtook the fact that 90% of the cars are high-end four-by-fours – there should be a pub rating scheme based around the value of what’s in the car park.
Given a thoroughly British tendency to only eat fish when it is battered or turned into fish fingers, it is impressive that The Forester’s menu majors in fish Chris and Lizzie Matthews took the pub on 10 years ago and before that they worked with Mitch Tonks of the Fishworks chain and fish is clearly a passion – five out of seven starters and five out of nine mains are fishy. The kitchen relies on a Brixham day boat and a couple of West Country fishmongers to supply the quality and very fresh fish daily – menus change to reflect the catch.
Having overcome the customer prejudices attached to featuring fish, the kitchen then faces the challenge of working with what is basically a rewarding, but unforgiving, ingredient. Fish needs to be cooked carefully and the spectre of overcooking is always close at hand. Fish also tends to be an expensive ingredient, so The Forester does well to price starters between £6.50 and £8.50, mains from £l7 to £21, with only a couple of the larger steaks pushing the boundaries to £27.
One of the most impressive starters is the ‘Provencal style fish soup, rouille, Parmesan and in-house bread – a good rich bowlful. Especially considering the non-availability of some of the classic French ingredient fish such as rascasse. Provencal style it says and Provencal tastes it delivers. Or there’s ‘Grilled fillets of Cornish sardines, fennel, tomato and pickled baby artichoke salad with wild garlic dressing’; or ‘Calamari fritti of Cornish squid with tartare sauce’. The meat starters are also well done – ‘Wessex Lowline Angus tongue’ comes with a rather good oxtail ravioli and green beans in an intense consomme – plenty of textures and plenty of flavours. Or perhaps ‘Mere Park Farm lamb croquettes with beetroot ketchup’ appeals? The Forester relies on local suppliers.
The main course choices also walk the line between sophisticated fish dish and some crowd pleasers like a burger and some steaks – ’30 day aged Dairy Farm Barn, Wessex Lowline Angus beef’ – sirloin, fillet or a cote de boeuf for two. Meanwhile the main dishes offer sea bream, turbot, monkfish, haddock, and pollock. Order the ‘Roast tranche of Cornish turbot, olive oil crushed potatoes, white sprouting broccoli and Hollandaise sauce’ and you gets large hunk of perfectly cooked fish with a well-made Hollandaise. Overall, this is an accomplished dish. The ‘Fish and chips’ is also done well – ‘Brixham haddock in beer batter, hand-cut chips, mushy peas and tartare sauce’.