The Square, YATTENDON, RG18 0UG
Yattendon doesn't make much of a footprint on the Berkshire countryside, but although small, it's a delightful village. It once had a castle, but this was wrecked during the Civil War, and locals tell a story of a wealthy family who fled the village after having first hidden a vast fortune in gold down a deep well. The search goes on. Forming part of a row of 16th-century cottages, the pub offers log fires in the bar, oak beams, and quarry-tiled and wooden floors in the adjoining lounge and dining rooms. Not surprisingly, owner Rob McGill serves real ales from the village's West Berkshire Brewery, including Good Old Boy and Mr Chubb's Lunchtime Bitter. Abundant local produce from top suppliers helps head chef Toby Barrett create unfussy seasonal dishes that have gained recognition in many a foodie guide. Consider, for example, a set lunch of chicory, walnut and Stilton salad; salmon and basil fishcake with wilted spinach; and lemon posset with shortbread. Other ideas from the regularly changing carte include roast Berkshire pork belly with beetroot gratin, swede mash and grain mustard sauce; and grilled sea bass with steamed clams, fennel, Pernod and saffron butter. Popular desserts are chocolate and almond tart and ice cream; and red wine-poached pear, hazelnut caramel and cinnamon Chantilly. Gather a party of eight, give four days' notice, and a feasting menu enables you to dine on roast suckling pig, roast rib of beef, venison Wellington or whole roasted sea bass. French windows lead to a walled rear garden with a vine-laden trellis. Quizzes are held fortnightly, and there are rib and crab nights, seafood weekends, local bands playing and weekend barbecues in the summer.