ALDERMINSTER, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 8NY
Part of the Alscot Estate, this striking Georgian coaching inn is set in the heart of a picturesque village between Stratford-upon-Avon and Shipston on Stour. The interior is a refreshing mix of contemporary comforts and rustic charm, with the historic core of beamed ceilings, blazing log fires and flagged floors combining well with bold colours and stylish fabrics and the modern dining courtyard. The inn is located beside a grassy garden, and the riverside meadow that ripples down to the River Stour is perfect for enjoying summer picnics. The restaurant, awarded an AA Rosette, oozes charm and is cunningly designed into quirky zones, each with its own distinct atmosphere. Time to enjoy a pint of North Cotswold Windrush or the inn's locally-brewed Alscot Ale and nibble on a self-selected grazing platter, perhaps laden with falafel, grilled halloumi, feta, olives, tzatziki and tabbouleh salad, before considering the indulgent daily-changing menu. Typically, begin with pan-seared wood pigeon, black rice salad, carrot and turnip with pumpkin muffin, then follow with pan-seared scallops and bream with truffle oil mash, wild mushrooms, cavolo nero and bacon crumble. Round off with apple and passion fruit mousse with champagne sorbet, or a plate of local cheeses with home-made chutney. In the bar, sandwiches are served with hand-cut chips and salad, or you can try a Bell classic, perhaps the 10oz chargrilled rump steak with peppercorn sauce, or jerk-spiced Warwickshire pulled pork with red slaw in a brioche bun. Much of the produce is local, with vegetables and herbs harvested from Alscot's historic kitchen garden, and game and venison is reared on the estate.