Tunworth Road, MAPLEDURWELL, RG25 2LU
The 1841 census records that Joseph Phillips, a shoemaker, lived here with his wife Elizabeth, four children and his brother, a farm labourer. By 1861 Joseph was multi-tasking, having added innkeeping to his repertoire, with his cottage now doubling as The Queen's Head. He probably made his big decision a few years earlier, in 1854, because that's the date that appears on two fireplace bricks in the dining room, one with his initials and the other with Elizabeth's. It has been The Gamekeepers since 1973, owners Phil and Sandra Costello arriving here some 30 years later. Standing on its own down a leafy lane in a village comfortably beyond Basingstoke's eastern limits, the pub is part-clapboard and the low-beamed, flagstone-floored interior features an indoor well. Armed with a drink, perhaps a Hampshire-brewed real ale, or a Norcotts real cider from Devon, settle into a leather sofa and study the menu, on which starters might include 'Welsh-style' mussels cooked in cider with leeks and smoked bacon; and Arbroath smokies with smoked fish pâté, cream cheese, horseradish and chives. Among the mains look for chargrilled fillet of beef with blue cheese and peppercorn butter, dauphinoise potatoes, wilted baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, organic shimeji mushrooms and red wine jus; or pan-fried fillet of sea bream with king prawns, new potatoes, market vegetables, tomato and caper butter. Vegetarian options include Sicilian ravioli with chillies, garlic, cumin and coriander, wild mushrooms, spinach and shaved parmesan. To round off, perhaps peach and Champagne sorbet; or the Hampshire cheeseboard of Barkham Blue, Stoney Cross and Tunworth.
Tel: 01256 322038
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Andwell, Flack Manor, Longdog, Upham, Hogs Back, West Berkshire
Mon-Fri 11-2.30 5.30-11 (Sat 11-11 Sun 11-10.30)
31 Dec, 1 Jan
Coach parties catered.