This month we’ve been chatting to Matt and Emily who run the Fleur de Lys in the village of Cranborne, a welcoming 17th century inn where you can eat, drink and stay in one of their nine bedrooms.
How did you end up at
The Fleur de Lys?
My wife and I moved to France 16 years ago with two young children (a total which has now grown to four children!). We built several houses as I was (am?) a builder, and we now rent them out for holiday lets.
We then set up Biginfrance.com where we do celebrity chef cookery courses, yoga retreats and other activity holidays – all alongside catering for very large numbers, cooking in large Chateaux throughout France. With this being very seasonal we found ourselves wanting a new project in the UK to continue our passion for food (Matt having been in and out of the catering industry for 25 years).
That’s when we found and fell in love with the Fleur de Lys inn in Cranborne. Taking over in September 2019 we had an amazing start and were very well received… but were bought to an abrupt halt due to Covid.
Tell us about your
We have an amazing team of locals and have a real sense of family at the inn. Charlie Farwell is head chef – he was previously in London and did five years at the Ritz hotel, so you can imagine the level of detail that goes into the food. It’s obviously all homemade; amazing sauces and a beautiful Lobster bisque that is outstanding and a signature dish. Front of house we have Tony as GM and he’s supported by a great local team including Sue, Emma, Vonnie and everyone else who plays their part. They all welcome guests with warmth and we’re proud of our friendly relaxed family-style atmosphere.
What’s your favourite local place to visit on an afternoon off?
We are situated in a beautiful village with fantastic walks, along with lots of local producers and local businesses. There’s the amazing la Fosse restaurant for fine dining and the very quirky six penny brewery for artisan ales!
What are you most proud of so far?
We’re most proud of how the team has pulled together. But in terms of physical achievements it has to be the outdoor fire kitchen we built during lockdown. We have six different fires we cook on; in the summer we cook solely out there and it has a real Mediterranean feel. It’s relaxed dining where you can watch the chefs cook on fire, which is great theatre and gives the food an amazing charred taste that reflects our menu.
What part of the building is your absolute favourite?
The inn dates back to the 17th century and is mentioned in Tess of the d’Urbervilles. The entire building is steeped in history, and we love every one of the nine ensuite bedrooms that are just so quaint. But it’s probably the beautiful inglenook fireplace – where better to sit, with the fire going, a nice local ale and some beautiful non-pretentious food.
Which meal is your most popular? What do people drive from afar to come specifically to you for?
We are renowned for our fire cooking and amazing steaks and beef cuts that we get from a company called From Salt to Smoke that are in the village. This was set up by Matt and another business partner, and is now supplying some of the best hotels and restaurants on the south coast. We also use Cove on the Quay in Poole for all our fish and we buy whatever they catch on their Day boats. So you can expect whole wood-fired Dorset lobsters in Thermidor sauce. Whole fish cooked on the fire and beautiful seafood such as mussels and clams, scallops and oysters – oyster we sometimes cook on the coals with a sumac butter that are just sublime.
Tell us about any of your really local suppliers?
Cranborne is so unique and has some fantastic suppliers. Some of our favourites are; The Book and Bucket Cheese Company. Award-winning local cheese.
As said before, From Salt to Smoke butchers. They provide fantastic local Himalayan dry aged beef, local game, pannage pork and lambs. Also their new charcuterie range is phenomenal. Orchard Bay Bakery for the best sourdough and bread around. Cranborne watercress. Lovely salads produced right here in the village.
We have some amazing mini break deals. So if you want to get away to a beautiful inn in a stunning location on the edge of the New Forest then this is the place for you. We are also just about to take on two big inns in Devon. Watch this space!!
The Fleur de Lys is open 9am until close every day. To book a table or room call 01725 551 249 or click here: https://thefleurdelysinn.co.uk/