Chris Staines has relaunched the Bridge House hotel in Beaminster as the Ollerod restaurant with rooms.
The former Michelin-starred chef acquired the 14-bedroom Dorset property four months ago with his partner Silvana Bandini. They have since invested around £100,000 in refurbishing the public areas and four of its bedrooms.
He told The Caterer
"We wanted something that had a connection to Dorset but also something modern and a bit unusual," he said.
The idea for the name Ollerod, which is a Dorset dialect word for cowslip, came from Staines' mother, who is originally from Dorset and found the word in a book about the origins of the Dorset dialect, A Bit of a Bumble by Alan Chedzoy.
They refurbished the property while it was operational, which Staines described as "a challenge" but said guests have been "really supportive", and he has also redesigned the menu to focus on seasonal produce with Asian flavours.
"The menu is developing as we go," said Staines. "You have to play to the marketplace somewhat. It's been really well received. It's just food I like to eat, dictated by the seasons."
Dishes include charred mackerel with kimchi and smoked mackerel broth; and soba noodle salad with grilled purple sprouting broccoli with a peanut, ginger and sesame dressing.
Staines said that although April was a challenging month due to the weather, the restaurant with rooms has seen "a really good reaction" locally, the last three months have been "really good" and they are on target for what they budgeted.
He said: "The last four months have been very much concentrating on the refurb while trying to operate, now we're going to step back and concentrate on operating, and there are lots of events we'd like to do - wine dinners, BBQs, fun stuff that gets people involvedâ¦ As well as being a business we just want people to come and enjoy it."
They plan to refurbish the building's remaining 10 bedrooms at the beginning of next year and have also applied for allotment space to enable them to grow more produce to use in the kitchen as well as what is being grown in the property's garden.
Staines had been searching for his own business since leaving the four-AA-star, 60-bedroom Abbey hotel in Bath, where he was executive chef for five years. He previously joined Heckfield Place in Hampshire, for a brief period as executive chef and director of food and beverage, having earlier held a Michelin star at Foliage (now closed) at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel in London.