My Pub: the Barrington Boar, Ilminster, Somerset

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Somerset special: the Barrington Boar
Somerset special: the Barrington Boar

Related tags The Barrington Boar Food Gastropub Chef Freehouse My Pub

The Barrington Boar is not just a village pub – food is its speciality and it has been recognised for its quality.

Facts ’n’ stats

Name:​ the Barrington Boar

Address:​ Main Street, Barrington, near Ilminster, Somerset, TA19 0JB

Operators:​ Alasdair Clifford and Victoria Collins

Pub model:​ Freehold

Wet:dry split:​ 28:72

Year opened:​ 2018


The rural site has gained a prestigious listing on the Top 50 Gastropubs list​, placing at number 35 in the UK.

Here, operator Victoria Collins tells The Morning Advertiser​ all about the beautiful pub in the south-west of England, which also offers accommodation and great drinks.

The pub

The Barrington Boar is an independently owned and operated country pub and restaurant with rooms offering modern British cooking and refined comfort food in the heart of the South Somerset countryside.

We’re a husband-and-wife team with Alasdair Clifford (Al) who grew up locally on Exmoor at the helm of the kitchen and me (Victoria Collins) leading front of house.

The publican

We took over the reins of the Barrington Boar in June 2018 and launched it without any real fanfare. We had no marketing or renovation budgets to help us transform the pub into what we had in mind.

Instead, we had two days between getting the keys and opening the doors so we gave it a very quick lick of paint ourselves, did what we could with the kitchen, sent an email out to The Morning Advertiser​ and opened up.

In many ways, we are very happy that this was the case. It allowed us to work out exactly what we should be offering our locals and didn’t alienate the existing clientele.

Alasdair and Victoria (left) boh right
Alasdair Clifford and Victoria Collins (left) and fun in the kitchen (right)

Over five years, we have built a solid customer base, created a food and drink offering that has been getting attention locally and nationally but critically at an organic and comfortable pace that didn’t create a false sense of buzz.

We’d been living together happily in London for sometime but were keen to make a life for ourselves in the countryside.

We have always been passionate about the ‘great British pub’ and fell in love with the village of Barrington instantly after many months of searching around Somerset, Devon and Dorset for a pub we could make our own.

Al grew up locally and has more than 10 years’ experience working in Michelin-starred restaurants in London, including Chez Bruce, Harwood Arms and The Glasshouse.

I have a background in theatre design and hospitality, having worked FOH with Sarah and Eric Guignard at their neighbourhood restaurant The French Table in my hometown of Surbiton.

The trade

Our pub sits in the centre of Barrington, a small and pretty village lined with thatched cottages in the heart of rural Somerset.

We aren’t far away from the towns of Bruton, Frome and Taunton so get customers visiting from there and, because we are on the way to Cornwall from London, we also get people stopping off for dinner, bed and breakfast en-route.

Both Bath and Bristol are an hour and 15 minutes’ drive away so, again, we get people making the journey to us specially for lunch and maybe a walk around Barrington Court, which is a short walk away from us.

barringtonboar interior 1

We have a lovely group of regulars from the village who come to the pub for a drink and a chat but most of our customers come to us specially for a meal and usually stop by early to sample some local drinks before dining.

The pub offers many different things to different people – it’s the beating heart of the local community and a special place to dine with friends and family but also a relaxed hideaway for a weekend getaway.

The team

We’ve created a genuinely friendly, happy working environment and have made sure there’s a great relationship between front and back of house. Being married to the chef has certainly helped us to achieve this!

BB food collage 1

We operate in a pretty rural area of Somerset and there aren’t the numbers of skilled, experienced workers around us to sustain all the local restaurants and pubs, so when we first started, we spent a lot of time training young staff members ourselves.

Today, we have a small talented team of five FOH and seven BOH that we are really proud of, many of whom have been with us since we first opened and others that have joined us from well-respected establishments across the south-west.

Training is ongoing for all staff because they’re required to have extensive product knowledge and be passionate about what they are serving. This means trips to visit farms so they can see where we get our produce from, group truffle hunting days out in the woods, and wine and cheese tastings.

The drink

We’re a freehouse and purchase ales and ciders directly from local breweries. We’re really proud of who we work with and what we serve, most of which comes from the south-west.

We work closely with small independent breweries to offer a selection of changing guest ales, including Quantock Brewery, Bristol Beer Factory, Otter Brewery and Exmoor Ale.

barringtonboar Vic cocktail

As well as serving great beer, we offer a wide and wonderful selection of cider – this is Somerset after all. We have Perry’s medium sparkling cider Barn Owl on tap and a local collection of bottled ciders from Harry’s, Perry’s and Burrow Hill.

Our gin collection features local producers such as Wicked Wolf Gin from Exmoor, Conker from Dorset, Tarquin’s from Cornwall and 6 O’Clock Gin from Bristol.

We’re also very lucky to be located three miles from The Somerset Cider Brandy Company, which makes superb products, and we are extremely proud of our English sparkling wine: Smith & Evans 2015, which is produced less than 10 miles from Barrington.

As we’re in a rural location, we have a lot of people driving to us so, last year, we invested in a Le Verre De Vin wine preservation system so we can offer more high-end wines by the glass for people who can only have one glass with their meal. We’ve also introduced 500ml carafes so a party of two can share that instead of a whole bottle when one of them is driving, which has gone down really well.

The food

We’ve become well known for our food and have caught people’s attention mainly due to Alasdair’s talent as a chef.

We’ve put together an amazing team in the kitchen that deserves the attention and praise it is starting to receive – not just from our customers but increasingly from the press and other chefs. Our customers are loyal and return time after time, and this is as much to do with our service as it is the food.

BB food collage 2

Our kitchen offers modern British cooking and refined comfort food. On the current menu, we have a charcoal-grilled sirloin of 50-day dry-aged Devon red beef served with hand-cut chips, bone marrow and parsley butter stuffed mushroom, roast shallot and red wine and roasting juices plus a dry-aged pork loin chop with smoked bacon, sage and brown butter, caramelised apples, crackling and mustard sauce as well as a roast stone bass with Cornish clam and dash butter sauce, wilted greens and crushed seaweed potatoes.

BB food collage 3

We were very keen not to alienate some of the regulars who can often want to drop in for a couple of pints and something more casual, so have put some ‘lunch classics’ on the menu such as a cheese ploughman’s, a Barrington ploughman’s and fish and chips.

We stick to the ethos of the rest of the menu, where everything is made from scratch and on site, and all the ingredients are sourced locally from producers and farmers that we know well and trust. And our hand-cut chips are incredible.

During the quieter months of the year, we also put on weekday lunchtime set menus at a very reasonable price, which has always been really popular. It gives us the opportunity to introduce our food to new customers at a lower price point, and we’ve often been able to convert them into evening guests – the rate of return for a la carte dining has been really impressive.

Our approach is to build close and trusted partnerships with the finest local producers and suppliers. Many of them drink in the pub and we visit them regularly to keep abreast of what is in season.

BB food collage 4

It’s an incredible landscape in south Somerset; there’s incredibly fertile soil around here so it’s no wonder we have some of the most diverse arable farms in the country, offering everything from organic vegetables, orchards, vineyards and fantastic dairy.

We are also slap bang in the middle of what is essentially the Champagne region of cider country. It really wasn’t hard to find great, independent local suppliers and shops around us and even now, after five years at the Boar, we’re still picking up new local suppliers to put on our menu – there’s just such an abundance around here.

The events

We’re at the heart of a tight knit community so throw lots of village events ranging from summer beer festivals and local weddings to an annual Christmas party and fair.

We also host regular dining events throughout the year, where we highlight produce from some of our favourite local suppliers on the menu and invite these suppliers to give a small talk about their produce to our guests.

barringtonboar Al food

A popular autumn event we put on showcased produce from some of our favourite local producers such as rare pig breeders Laird & Rose, the Somerset Cider Brandy Company and Perry’s Cider. Evenings like this are extremely popular and sell out very quickly.

Last year, we joined Slow Food UK, where we are able to shout about local produce on a bigger scale and to a wider audience. We ran two special ticketed dinners with them – one highlighting Somerset’s Ark of Taste produce and an ‘in-discussion’ and dinner with Slow Food’s Shane Holland and author Dan Saladino on his book Eating to Distinction​.

The future

Last year we acquired a large site for development, adjacent to the pub, which has been keeping us very busy.

We’ve been renovating a 3,000-plus sq ft period farmhouse, cider barn and outhouses to create further accommodation and a bakery and will then tackle the 0.4-acre plot of land where we are planning on working the land and creating a market garden that will supply the kitchen.

BB food collage 5

What’s on the menu?


Lightly spiced crown prince squash soup with cauliflower puree & minted yoghurt - £9.50

Thinly slicked roast duck breast with duck offal kebab, spiced red cabbage& meat juices - £12.50

Barbecued fillet of silver bream with south Indian coconut moilee sauce & prawn fritter - £14.50


Hay-baked & barbecued celeriac steak with peppercorn sauce, wilted greens & shoestring fries - £22

Roasted loin of West Country sika venison with smoked game sausage, fondant potato & spiced carrot puree - £33

Charcoal-grilled sirloin of 50-day dry-aged Devon red beef served with hand-cut chips, bone marrow and parsley butter stuffed mushroom, roast shallot & red wine & roasting juices - £36


Toasted miso caramel & chocolate tartlet, coffee ice cream & coca nib crunch - £10

Blood orange & caramelised puff pastry slice with orange sorbet - £9.50

Vanilla crème brulee - £9


barringtonboar interior 2

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