The Square, RAMSBURY, SN8 2PE
From its strategic position in the centre of the village, this 17th-century coaching inn can keep an eye on everything coming up the High Street. Just outside, on a little green, a lovely old tree provides shade for a couple of benches, while on the wall of a building opposite a pre-war, AA enamel road sign survives to inform motorists that London is 68 miles away. The light, spacious bar serves Ramsbury real ales, brewed in nearby Aldbourne, and Lilley's Apples & Pears cider from Somerset. The bar menu offers Mediterranean-style nibbles, fish and triple-cooked chips, and a daily pie. Experienced head chef Duncan Jones is guardian of the Bell's two AA Rosettes, awarded for his modern British fine-dining tradition. Among the starters, his inventive menus may suggest duck egg on toast with Iberico ham and truffle; and smoked Var salmon with caramelised yogurt, keta caviar and nasturtium root. Further insight is given by such mains as pan-roast turbot with confit potatoes, artichokes, wild mushrooms and truffle velouté; Kelmscott pork belly with glazed cheek, new potatoes, braised red cabbage and pork sauce; and scorched vegetables with roast squash, kale and burnt leek mayonnaise. To conclude, among the desserts might be pistachio and marmalade bread and butter pudding; and rhubarb posset with honeycomb and rhubarb jelly. France takes pole position on the wine list, followed by Spain, Italy and the New World. Children have their own menu, but may have a half portion of something else if they want; high-chairs are available for toddlers. Breakfast, lunch, coffee and tea are served in the Bell's Shaker-influenced Café Bella.