STANTON WICK, Nr Pensford, BS39 4BX
The Carpenters Arms is well placed for visiting Bath, Bristol and the smaller cathedral city of Wells, but if you're already in one of these cities, then this quiet hamlet is equally well situated if you fancy pointing the car the other way and heading for somewhere rural. If you have your walking boots, nearby Chew Valley Lake is an established wildlife haven, where you can walk the Grebe and Bittern nature trails. A charming stone-built, pantile-roofed free house overlooking the Chew Valley, the pub was converted from a row of miners' cottages. Beyond the flower-hung exterior, in the rustic bar, you'll find low beams, old pews, squashy sofas, and precision-cut logs stacked neatly from floor to ceiling in the large fireplace. It all adds up to an appealing, music-free, chatty atmosphere. For a pint of local Butcombe Bitter, the bar is where you need to be, although you can always take it outside to the attractively landscaped patio. The menus are changed regularly to make the best of West Country, seasonal produce, incorporated into a menu that might feature king prawn stir-fry with crisp vegetables and sweet chilli sauce; pork loin steak with fondant potato and spinach with cider apple cream sauce; and sauté of mushrooms, leeks, red onion and spinach in tarragon cream sauce topped with puff pastry. And then there are the delicious home-made desserts, especially the treacle tart with clotted cream, and the chocolate and hazelnut brownie with vanilla ice cream. The extensive wine list combines New and Old World favourites, with a lovely Chilean pudding wine available by the half bottle.