FONTHILL GIFFORD, nr Tisbury, SP3 6PX
Just three minutes from the A303, this handsome 18th-century coaching inn is set on the edge of the beautiful rolling parkland of Lord Margadale's 10,000-acre Fonthill Estate. Once a stopping point for weary travellers on the way from London to the South West, this elegant dining pub is now a destination in its own right. You can eat wherever you want, either in the main bar with its huge fireplace and parquet floor or in the separate restaurant. In summer, head out into the rambling garden where hammocks hang between the trees, you can play pétanque and children can do what children do. In winter the huge open fire in the bar is used to spit-roast suckling pigs and warm mulled wine. Whatever the season, Keystone's Beckford Phoenix real ale is a permanent fixture in the bar, with other beers on tap including Dorset Piddle Jimmy Riddle. Sheppy's is one of the real ciders on draught and there are 12 wines available by the glass including the Fonthill Glebe, a local crisp white wine. An invigorating menu leads in with own-smoked chalk stream trout with peas, pickled radish, pea tops and tarragon mayo as an eye-catching starter. Advance then to traditional pub grub like beer-battered Cornish fish and chips; or Wiltshire ham and Westcombe Cheddar ploughman's, or plump for a seasonal à la carte main, seasonally adjusted. Pan-fried Skrei cod with ricotta dumplings, hollandaise, kale and artichoke crisps may tempt; or enjoy in garlic roast fregola pasta with cauliflower purée, wild mushrooms, sprouting broccoli and a crispy hen egg. Still room, perchance, for apple, pear and cinnamon crumble with vanilla custard.