High Street, HINTON ST GEORGE, TA17 8SE
A pub since 1680, there's that certain something about this handsome stone village inn that we do so well in Britain: thatched roof, secluded garden; wisteria-draped pergola tucked in next to an old Fives court. Then inside, a magpie-mix of polished antique furniture distributed judiciously across timeworn boarded floors, shiny flagstones and a vast fireplace pumping out the heat into tastefully decorated rooms. The feel is so quintessentially, dare we say it, English. The inner bar is popular with locals, not least because it dispenses pints of Branscombe Vale, Hop Back and Otter ales, and West Country ciders straight from the cask. Such a traditional interior does not mean you'll necessarily get traditional food, although if you want fish and triple cooked chips with tartare sauce, it could well be waiting for you to ask. Just as likely, though, are cured wild duck breast, pickled beets and red cabbage; or goats' cheese 'cheesecake' with red onion jam to start; venison and bacon meat loaf, soft parmesan polenta, green beans and truffle; or pan-seared sea bream with locally foraged wild garlic risotto as a main course; then poached Yorkshire rhubarb and tonka bean pannacotta; or a fine selection of West Country cheeses served with home-made oat cakes and chutney to round things off. The set two- and three-course Sunday lunches are good value, as is the Supper Club comfort food menu served from 5-7pm each evening. There's a decent wine list, too, and a summer weekend beer festival. For outdoor dining there are white metalwork tables and chairs in a lavender-fringed gravelled area reminiscent of somewhere French, and picnic-sets in a wild flower meadow.