Dominic Chapman grew up in the hospitality industry, with his family having run The Castle in Taunton for decades. He trained at The Fat Duck and Kensington Place and for a time was head chef of Hinds Head and later The Royal Oak in Paley Street. The Beehive is a traditional pub and overlooks the village green. The a la carte menu is quite classical and offers plenty of appealing options.
The wine list had 53 labels and ranged in price from £22.50 to £450, with a median price of £46 and an average markup to retail price of 2.8 times, which is pretty fair by today’s standards. Sample references were Firestone Riesling 2019 from Santa Ynez Valley in California at £35 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £11, Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir 2019 at £63 compared to its retail price of £25, and Massolino Barolo 2017 at £90 for a wine that will set you back £41 in the high street. For those with the means there was the superb Alión Tempos Vega Sicilia 2017 at £170 compared to its retail price of £76, and the lovely Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 2008 at £450 for a wine whose current market value is £218.
We started our meal with a classic Scotch egg, which had a liquid egg yolk centre, pork filling with good flavour and a crisp outside coating of fried breadcrumbs (14/20). Lasagna of wild rabbit was as good as I recall from a previous visit, the rabbit meat having excellent flavour, the pasta good texture and the wood blewit mushrooms and chervil providing an extra flavour dimension (15/20). I also tasted an excellent scallop dish featuring two large diver-caught Orkney scallops that had been carefully cooked and had good natural sweetness, along with lightly curried cauliflower puree, hazelnut vinaigrette and chives (15/20).
The main course was peppered haunch of wild venison, creamed spinach, celeriac puree and sauce poivrade (pepper sauce). The venison was accurately cooked, and its richness was nicely complemented by the spinach and the earth flavour of the celeriac, the gentle bite of the pepper nicely enhancing the flavour of the meat (15/20).
For dessert, baked egg custard tart came with lemon curd, praline and nutmeg. The pastry was good, the custard very light and the acidity of the lemon was just right to bring a little freshness to the dish (15/20). The coffee offered was Musetti, a cheap industrial one, so I had tea instead. I should say that I gather that there are plans to upgrade the coffee. Service was charming and the bill came to £119 a head including service and a bottle of the lovely Vega Sicilia Alion. The Beehive has an appealing menu and tonight was able to deliver well on that promise, with good ingredients and accurate cooking. It is a very appealing place, and it is easy to understand why it was packed out.