We especially like places that evolve over time under the same hands-on owner managers – rather than using quick money to make it happen all at once. Julian (Jools) and Sally bought the place in 1997 as a dead-beat village pub. Into the nothing special building they inserted a rather good restaurant and set about persuading not just the pub-supporting locals but people further afield that it was worth driving some way for the rather special food. People came, and the restaurant prospered – but the place was still an awkward hybrid – a restaurant in a pub building with no accommodation. Then in 2007, on the back of the restaurant’s success, they added five rooms. So then they had a restaurant with rooms – moreover, up to date rooms - and suddenly their operation was fully in its skin.
The bedrooms, in a smart, clean modern style, have got the basics right: top-quality beds, best linen. Apparently minor details such as a wind-up torch in every bedside drawer get a surprisingly large amount of positive guest feedback.
The food, around which the operation revolves, is again the product of spadework and inspiration. Jools worked extra hard at finding top, truly local ingredients and maintain a relationship with the suppliers. His presentation is modern, but unfussy, portions well judged. He tries to let the ingredients speak for themselves – “not to do too much to them”. One of his perennials is monkfish and scallops, wild mushrooms and bacon lardoons, with black pilau rice from China. – a terrific mixture of fishy and earthy flavours, with colour contrast and subtle textures.