Baughurst Road, BAUGHURST, RG26 5LP
Hidden down a maze of lanes in peaceful countryside between Basingstoke and Newbury is the stylish 'Welly', once used as a hunting lodge by the Duke of Wellington. Inside are wooden tables, tiled floors and attractively patterned curtains and blinds. Since arriving here over a decade ago, Jason King and Simon Page have never looked back. Their ethos is simple: local, well-priced and delicious food. Jason's award-winning, daily chalkboard menus offer plenty of interest and imagination and much of the produce is organic and local or home grown, since they are dedicated to keeping down the food miles. Salad leaves, herbs and vegetables are grown in the pub's polytunnel and raised vegetable beds, free-range eggs come from their rare-breed and rescue hens, and there are also pedigree Jacob sheep, Tamworth pigs and five beehives. Begin with roasted home-grown pumpkin soup with toasted pumpkin seeds and sour cream; or home-cured ham hock, fennel and parsley terrine, English mustard mayonnaise and sourdough toast. Follow with roast fillet of Brixham cod with preserved lemon crust, sautéed marsh samphire and Puy lentils; or chargrilled Orchard Farm pork chop, sticky red cabbage, mash and parsnip crisps. Any home-made dessert will make the perfect finish - perhaps Eccles cake stuffed with dried fruit and 'Welly' honey, with Lancashire cheese or custard. The dining room is rather small so booking is certainly advisable. The well-tended garden acts as an extension for diners when the sun shines; if the weather is on the chilly side, ask to borrow a warm mohair rug.