“A gorgeous old country pub with 8 modern rooms and fantastic prices”
The Talbot's 8 rooms are beautiful. Superb beds wrapped in white linens, thick duvets and a trademark tartan blanket; thick tweed curtains and button-back armchairs; deep sofas and contemporary art on the walls - ours had a melange of leaf sketches.
As should be the case, all rooms have the same basic comforts. Fragrant Bramley toiletries (you get a full-sized product of your choice to take home, as a thanks for booking through i-escape), good showers, tea trays with Twinings sachets, proper coffee and a bar of Dairy Milk for good measure. Hot-water bottles hang from wall pegs; glossy magazines sit on your coffee table or window seat; vast plasma TVs have a bank of free films to watch.
There are 5 categories to choose from. The Small and Medium rooms are stylish and great value for money, with showers over tubs (or just a shower), and big windows letting in lots of light. Large has extra beautiful décor (we loved the window seat) and more space. Family has 2 bedrooms (a double and a twin room), with 2 bathrooms and space for a baby cot. And top of the pile, Very Large, are magnificent, in size and style. We stayed in Room 6 and were blown away by its loveliness. An emperor-size four-poster bed, a double-ended bath in the bedroom plus a drench shower in the bathroom; a separate sitting area with sofas and a second TV, and logs filling an ancient fireplace. We lounged and slept brilliantly, and would return like a shot. We also loved Room 8 (once the store room), with its stunning bathroom - beamed ceilings and a furry rug.
Dinner at The Talbot was refreshingly unpretentious and very well priced. Clusters of tables are spread between the 4 small, low-ceilinged rooms of the ancient inn, with a couple of open fires to warm things in winter, and spindly alfresco tables in the cobbled courtyard for summer.
The menu changes daily, and is based around local produce. We kicked off with an excellent crayfish and smoked haddock terrine with warm sourdough, and a Hogs pudding with Bath chaps, which my husband galloped through in seconds then pronounced delicious. Mains were a Cornish pollock 'in a bag' with leeks and fragrant tarragon, and salmon with roasted beetroot and cauliflower purée, both very good. In contrast, desserts were simple and a little disappointing: rice pudding with blackberry jam and nutmeg; pear and frangipane tart with vanilla creme fraiche. In hindsight, we should have had the local cheeses. Traditional bar food - enormous burgers, beer-battered fish and chips - is also available all day, as are kid-sized portions.
If you're here on a weekend, don't miss The Grill House, a fabulous conversion of the old function room. Enormous iron candelabras dangle over long tables; the bar (with its specialist gin concoctions) is flanked by boars' heads, and dark panelling, high beamed ceilings and brass candlesticks provide heaps of atmosphere. Local venison and glazed pork ribs are roasted on open wood-fires, along with fennel-stuffed sea bream and whole chickens. 'A plate of meat' looks just the thing; order a local ale to accompany it.
Breakfast is a cut above the norm, not least for its orange juicer. Tuck into local breads with seasonal jams, poached apricots, then thyme-roasted mushrooms or hash browns with a duck egg. Hot chocolate with whipped cream on the side? Oh, go on then.
There's nowhere else to eat in Mells, but Frome has some lovely lunch spots (a 10-minute drive away) and staff can recommend other Somerset pubs.
Families are welcome. There's a lawned area out back for kids to run around, and child-friendly meals in the bar and restaurant (burgers, fish and chips etc). All rooms except the Small have a bath. 0-3 year olds stay for free; there is a surcharge for 3+ year olds.
A travel baby cot or extra bed for a child can be added to all rooms except 2 and 5.
The Family room (which has its own separate entrance) is ideal with 1 double bedroom plus a twin bedded annexe room (discounts are are available for less than 4 guests) - enquire for details). Very Large room 6 is also a good option with a double sofabed in its separate sitting room.
Baby monitors reach the rooms from the restaurant.
The traditional pub meals will please most kids, and are available in child-size portions.