I had the pleasure of accepting an invitation to visit the cafe at Keyneston Mill recently and wow, was I glad that I did.
Owners David and Julia Bridger, originally purposed Keyneston Mill and its surrounding land as a perfumery – Parterre Fragrances. The land is nestled in the heart of Dorset, close to Blandford Forum, and snuggles right up to the River Stour. David and Julia decided to take a seed to bottle approach to perfumery and they regularly experiment with every stage of the perfume process. This isn’t your average perfumery and the decision to grow all their ingredients forced them to try growing plants not necessarily indigenous to the UK or experiment to find a suitable alternative.
Their original approach to perfumery has attracted international attention from notable perfume ‘noses’ (like Jacques Chabert who has worked with David and Julia to create their fragrances). Their fragrances are limited runs, determined by how much of the ingredients they can grow on their estate, and I fell in love with ‘A tribute to Edith’ in particular with its delicate use of Rose Geranium. Their fragrances have garned quite the success and can be purchased from Parterre direct, as well as from top retailers such as Fortnum & Mason, the Corinthia Hotel and The Conran Shop.
On the same site, and of special attraction to me, is their bistro cafe – The Scented Botanist. Even on the grey January day that i visited, Keyneston Mill and its cafe are beautiful – with fresh flowers and big windows aplenty.
The menu is crafted by the excellent chefs onsite, and everything is made from scratch – sourcing many ingredients either from surrounding food producers or grown in the garden itself. There is a strong focus on scent in the food too, as well as colour and presentation on the plate.
I was joined on my excursion by another of Dorset Foodie Family’s writers – Rebecca Smale – and between us we struggled to make a decision about what to eat because it all looked so good! In the end I settled on a game terrine with black treacle bread and Rebecca had a pasta dish with truffle oil.
Home grown flowers and herbs are integral to all the dishes and boy can you tell. Its not often I eat a dish so good that I am genuinely sad when it is over, but that black treacle bread was a tremendous joy to eat, perfectly complementing the strong game flavour.
Rebecca’s pasta dish smelled incredible the moment it arrived at our table and tasted just as good as it smelled (and looked!). Its amazing how something so simple can taste SO good.
The Scented Botanist make all their own cakes and french inspired pastries too and we were tempted to try a pudding. On the chef’s recommendation, I went for a chocolate and mincemeat dome and Rebecca settled on a chocolate brownie that had been paired with violet.
Both desserts were beautifully presented with their respective mirror glazes and fresh flowers and they both tasted incredible too.
The Scented Botanist is open every day except Tuesdays, from 10am to 4:30pm. Keyneston Mill also has lots of events happening as the weather warms including outdoor cinema screenings so keep an eye on their website sign up to their newsletter to be kept up to date with those. They are also available for private hire, both in the cafe itself and outside in their garden pods.
Both Rebecca and I had a wonderful time on our visit and we are very much looking forward to coming back… and not just when the weather warms!
Keyneston Mill & The Scented Botanist
|Invited by PR company?||No|
|Guest of chef/restaurant/owner?||Yes|
|Restaurant/outlet knew ahead we were bloggers?||Yes|
|Was the meal complimentary from the restaurant?||Yes|
|Any complimentary items provided by restaurant/outlet?||No|