The Square, YATTENDON, RG18 0UG
The Domesday Book village of Yattendon was once important enough to have a castle, although it was largely destroyed by Parliamentary forces during the Civil War. There's also a fortune in gold down a deep well, somewhere, hidden by a wealthy family who then fled the village. Locals are still searching. Part of a row of 16th-century cottages, the pub is graced with log fires in the bar, oak beams, and quarry-tiled and wooden floors in the lounge and dining rooms. French windows lead to a walled rear garden with a vine-laden trellis. West Berkshire Brewery is based here and, understandably, Royal Oak owner Rob McGill serves its Good Old Boy and Mr Chubb's Lunchtime Bitter, as well as a guest ale. Abundant local produce from top suppliers is used for seasonal dishes that many a foodie guide has praised. By all means just have a sandwich, or keep browsing and find starters such as baked scallops thermidor; and Royal Windsor farm pork and game terrine with cranberry, fig and shallot salad. Main course options include wild boar, sage and cider pie with Calvados apple mash; baked Brixham cod, smoky bacon and cheddar sauce, and crispy potatoes; and breaded chicken Kiev with garlic and parsley butter, fries and mixed leaves. For sharing there's côte de boeuf with duck-fat roast potatoes, watercress and béarnaise sauce, while dishes on the feasting menu are worth considering for parties of six or more. There's always something going on, with fortnightly quizzes, rib and crab nights, quarterly seafood weekends and masterclasses in cheese.