STANTON WICK, Nr Pensford, BS39 4BX
Well placed for visiting Bath, Bristol and Wells or, by the same token, if you're already in one of these cathedral cities, then this quiet hamlet is close enough to consider making for. A low-slung, stone-built, pantile-roofed free house overlooking the Chew Valley, it was converted from a row of miners' cottages, dating from when the Somerset coalfield was in production. Beyond the flower-hung porch, the rustic bar displays low beams, old pews, squashy sofas, and precision-cut logs stacked neatly in the large fireplace. An appealing music-free place, it's where a pint of local Butcombe Bitter, Cornish Doom Bar or a guest ale will always go down well, whether inside or on the attractively landscaped patio. The menus change regularly to make the best of West Country-sourced produce, appearing perhaps as a starter of tomato, basil and mozzarella salad; chicken liver and wild mushroom pâté; or smoked salmon with lemon, capers and black pepper. For a main course, try mussel, prawn and crayfish linguine with white wine and chive cream sauce; Thai chicken curry with steamed coriander-flavoured rice; or whole roasted pepper with Mediterranean vegetable ragout topped with gratinated goats' cheese, new potatoes and dressed mixed salad. Sunday, of course, means a choice of roasts, but fish and vegetarian dishes are there for the asking too. Among the home-made desserts are treacle tart and clotted cream; and white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake. Not an overlong wine list, but a good range. If you have your walking boots, nearby Chew Valley Lake is an established wildlife haven.