NETHER WESTCOTE, OX7 6SD
The views over the Evenlode Valley from this old malthouse in picturesque Nether Westcote on the Gloucestershire-Oxfordshire border are marvellous. Thoughtfully designed, the inn retains its original character, especially in the log-fired bar, where rotating local real ales - maybe Severn Vale's Nibley, or Prescott's Hill Climb - can be found. Local produce forms the backbone of the menus, with herbs and vegetables grown in the kitchen garden. Kuba Winkowski's modern British cuisine brings a daily set lunch menu for relaxed eating in the bar, or on the sycamore tree-shaded garden terrace. Blackboard specials have included kid with chickpeas, puntarella, aubergine, apricot and ras el hanout; and wood pigeon with beetroot, tortellini, buckwheat, winter truffle and consommé. The seasonal carte's modern take on classic combinations leads to starters of suckling pig with Granny Smith apple, celeriac slaw, mustard and vintage cider; and albacore tuna with turnip, mooli, wasabi, miso, ponzu sauce and sesame seeds. Or from the charcoal grill, maybe 8oz Iberico pork pluma with chunky chips, chorizo, garlic mushroom, romesco sauce and mixed leaf salad. Do leave room for desserts, such as rhubarb, blood orange, ginger nut and yogurt shard. Afternoon tea and Sunday lunch are also served. Individually decorated bedrooms with comfortable beds and antiques are available; the pub makes an excellent base from which to explore the quaint and charming villages nearby. Look out for enjoyable events that run throughout the year, including jazz evenings, flower workshops and a vintage car rally.