Porlock Weir, a coastal hamlet a few miles west of Porlock village, has a lot to suggest it: sweeping views of sea and wooded hills, cute cottages, fishing boats within the tidal harbour. Some love the otherworldliness of its seashore, although it’s not the place for a soothing stroll: its “shingle” is definitely massive, gray and pinkish stones on which you don’t a lot stroll as hop precariously from one boulder to the following. And now Porlock Weir has one other draw: trendy rooms and Italian-influenced eating at Locanda on the Weir.
Pio Catemario has been a passionate foodie ever since he was a baby rising up in Naples and hanging across the household kitchen seeing how favorite meals have been ready. It was the prospect to indulge this ardour that led him and associate Cindy to tackle the run-down Café on the Weir, overlooking the seashore and harbour. They up to date the beige inside (“It appeared like a 1980s nursing house,” says Cindy) and relaunched the property as a restaurant-with-rooms final 12 months.

The bay-windowed Locanda has clearly shaken off the whiff of cream teas and fish and chip lunches. In a bar/lounge with sensible sofas and fascinating art work, husband and I sip on sensible and fascinating aperitivos. Aperol is so over; we now favour the extra refined Bèrto – much less candy and a less-luminous orange than the well-known model.
Upstairs are 5 boutique-y rooms (4 with sea views) furnished with antiques and eclectic artwork – although some may maybe do with a contact much less floral cloth. I take pleasure in lounging on an previous steamer chair, gazing out to sea and nibbling a home made biscuit, earlier than taking a pre-dinner bathe with Aromatherapy Associates merchandise.
Pio nurtured his cooking abilities over a 15-year profession within the Metropolis of London, and now he’s letting them fly. Open to non-residents Thursday to Saturday, the restaurant presents a full à la carte menu, plus top-notch pastas, however Pio’s scope ranges properly past Italian meals: “Something scrumptious belongs on my desk,” he tells me. What he loves finest, although, is doing three- and five-course set dinners for lodge visitors.

Within the fingers of a gifted cook dinner equivalent to Pio, this makes a soothing option to dine. No deciding amongst too-tempting choices, no menu envy – simply well-chosen dishes from a kitchen that’s not rushed. First comes home-cured salmon, thick-cut and garnished with piquant bits and items that make every mouthful completely different: horseradish cream, candied lemon peel, black sesame, pickled beetroot and balsamic pearls.
A vegan salad with basil guacamole and cashew cream “cheese” is adopted by a wealthy celeriac soup laced with little explosions of astringency – pepper berries grown by Vietnam’s Cô Tô tribe, we’re informed. I scrape away on the bowl and am tempted to run my finger spherical it. The primary is salt cod, however salted for simply three days, leaving agency, pearly flesh. We barely have room for a shared almond and chocolate torta caprese, however that’s as fairly and delicate as every thing else.

Subsequent morning I’m relieved mine aren’t the one stocking toes within the eating room. Porlock Weir is both the second or the penultimate stage on the South West Coast Path – relying in your route – and walkers don’t put on their boots greater than needed. Breakfasts supply healthy-hiking gas: inexperienced juice, say, then Bircher muesli with apples, nuts, berries and apricot compote, and parmesan omelette with a plethora of recent herbs. Husband’s full English is an image with its two-tone fried eggs: a golden-yolked native one and a vivid orange Burford Brown.
We pull on our boots to hit not the coast path however Exmoor, with Jennie and Malcolm Wild, former vets who, as Wild About Exmoor, run guided walks, stargazing and different actions from their barn in the course of the moor. Because it’s the 150th anniversary of the guide, we go for the Lorna Doone stroll, and it’s as distinctive as Pio’s meals: secret rocky valleys, rugged uplands and gnarled hoar oaks as otherworldly because the Recreation of Thrones Darkish Hedges. There are extra intellectual literary associations, too. Coleridge, regardless of interruption by a “individual from Porlock”, wrote Kubla Khan simply up the highway. Fellow poets Wordsworth and Southey frolicked right here, and it’s stated these hills impressed “England’s mountains inexperienced” in Blake’s Jerusalem.

Porlock Weir. {Photograph}: Leanna Coles
The following evening’s dinner brings marbled Chioggia beetroot with pomegranate and sheep’s cheese – a imaginative and prescient in pink and white – and delicate gnocchi with Somerset blue cheese. The primary is butter-soft lamb slow-cooked in a heady vary of spices to a recipe invented for Alexander the Nice after he conquered Punjab in 326BC.
It could not date again that far, however Porlock Weir feels prefer it’s in a time warp. The highway runs out right here, the broadband is sluggish, and the principle leisure is crabbing from the harbour wall. However issues are altering: a brand new social enterprise, run from a shed on the harbour, is creating jobs and promoting greater than 6,000 oysters a month; there are plans to construct a jetty in order that boats from south Wales can put in right here; and the Anchor Lodge, simply metres from Locanda, is below new administration and opened a couple of of its rooms final month. Cindy says she needs the house owners properly, however I reckon they’ll battle to match Pio’s well-honed, well-travelled desk.
• Lodging was supplied by Locanda on the Weir, which has doubles from £120 B&B; mains from £15, three-course set menu from £35pp, five-courses £45pp
Ask a neighborhood
Roger Corridor, director, Porlock Bay Oysters

Dunster Citadel. {Photograph}: Shaun Davey/Alamy
• DrinkThe Ship Inn in Porlock – referred to as the Prime Ship, to tell apart it from the Backside Ship, at Porlock Weir, owned by the identical folks – is the oldest pub on Exmoor, in-built 1290. It has environment, good meals and a variety of Exmoor Ales.
• VisitDunster, eight miles east of Porlock, is a medieval village with a priory, the octagonal 17th-century Yarn Market constructing, inns, a packhorse bridge, working water mill and Nationwide Belief-owned Dunster Citadel.
• WalkPorlock vacationer workplace has leaflets for round walks; one is an eight-miler heading west alongside the coast path to Culbone and one of many smallest church buildings in England, then again inland passing the farm (Ash Farm) the place Coleridge was residing when he was famously interrupted.
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