Charming 19th-century village pub with a large garden
At a glance
AA Pick of the Pubs
In 1841, what was then a cottage housed shoemaker Joseph Phillips, his wife Elizabeth, four children, his brother and a farm labourer. Around 1854, this being the date on two fireplace bricks in the dining room, one also with JP, the other with EP, it seems probable that Joseph decided shoes were career limiting and converted his cottage into a beer house, The Queen’s Head. This name survived until 1973, when it became The Gamekeepers; present owners Phil and Sandra Costello arrived 30 years later. Standing alone down a leafy lane in a village comfortably beyond Basingstoke’s eastern limits, the weatherboarded pub has a low-beamed, flagstone-floored interior and a covered well. The bar is certain to offer a choice of Hampshire-brewed real ales, Norcotts real cider from Devon, as well as 10 wines by the glass. On settling into a leather sofa to study the menu, you’ll find starters typified by bouillabaisse; and wild boar and herb terrine with quince and pear chutney. Among the mains look for chargrilled venison fillet with blue cheese and pink peppercorn butter, dauphinoise potatoes, shimeji mushrooms and red wine jus; pan-roasted Gressingham duck breast with potato gratin, heritage carrots, greens and port and redcurrant jus; and pan-fried fillet of hake with sauté potatoes, celeriac purée, greens and beurre rouge sauce. A vegetarian option of ‘Sicilian’ tagliatelle comes with pesto, sundried tomatoes, spinach, wild mushrooms, olives, parmesan and warm rustic bread. To round off, perhaps choose sticky toffee pudding with custard, or the Hampshire cheeseboard.