Dominic Wood (with help from Alfie the dog) heads up the young and passionate team in this 17th-century countryside pub that once had its own smithy. You’ll find it in the pretty Cotswold village of Asthall, where the Mitford sisters were raised. The church is worth a visit, and the manor often hosts public events. There’s a large selection of over 100 gins, well-conditioned cask ales including Otter Ale and Paradigm Fake News, craft beers and ciders plus around 20 wines by the glass. The ambitious kitchen uses only the finest, fresh local ingredients to create dishes such as starters of smoked chicken, peach, almond and endive salad with raspberry vinaigrette, or a broth of mussels, bay and chilli served with crusty bread. These might precede mains of confit chicken leg, spiced potato hash, red wine sauce; plaice fillets stuffed with crab, creamy mash, wilted spinach and hollandaise sauce; or vegetarian Glamorgan sausages with lentils, red onion marmalade and wholegrain mustard sauce. If you are looking for something a touch more ‘pub classic’, there’s also a daily pie with creamy mash, peas and gravy or beer battered haddock, hand-cut chips, tartar sauce and peas. Either way, you will want to leave room for one of the home-made desserts, which tick all the right boxes when it comes to comfort food. Try the gooey chocolate pudding with cherry ice cream, perhaps, or share the trio of apple desserts (tart Tatin, pannacotta with gingerbread crumb and sorbet). Time a visit for the August cider festival.