Guide to the best country pubs: Pt 2

PART TWO: RUTLAND

By Matt Wright

CRITERIA USED TO SELECT PUBS:

1) RURAL LOCATION
2) EXCELLENT, COSY AMBIENCE
3) REPUTATION FOR DECENT FOOD
4) GOOD RANGE OF REAL ALES
5) INDIVIDUAL AND SPECIAL

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OLIVE BRANCH, Clipsham

What can we say about this pub that hasn’t been said already? Not a lot, except that when you strip back the hype of its Michelin star, you’re left with a special yet homely country pub that’s managed incredibly professionally. The Olive Branch consistently gets the basics of good service and excellent cooking with superb ingredients spot on. When that’s done within a warm, friendly environment and combined with a commitment to excellent beer and wine, it’s an irresistible mix.
Olive Branch

Olive Branch head chef Sean Hope

Olive Branch dining room

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MARQUESS OF EXETER, Lyddington

Sophistication meets rustic in this large, warm, buzzy, AA four-star pub. All the building’s original features are on show, with flagstone floors and wooden beams, but there’s also a feeling of elegance. It could be down to the impressive sense of space that’s been created throughout. The food’s high-quality and Brian Baker, head chef, keeps pigs, chickens and a veg patch at the back, which reflects the sort of fresh, local ingredients he works with.
Marquess of Exeter

View from inside the Marquess

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THE COACH HOUSE, South Luffenham

This is a country pub with a thoroughly pleasant feel and smart, professional approach. With a woodburning stove and open fire, it’s certainly cosy. The flagstone floor, exposed stonework and pine tables create an honest, rustic ambience. The beer’s good, food reputed to be generous and well worth trying, and service excellent.
The Coach House

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RUTLAND’S BEST OF THE REST
There are so many great country pubs in and very close to Rutland that it’s impossible to name the best. They’re all good in their own way. All the places in this article are worth getting familiar with, not just the three mentioned above. So check these out too…

The White Hart, Ufford, deserves your attention even though it is just outside the county in Cambs.

White Hart exterior…

…and interior

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The wonderfully restored Tobie Norris of Stamford is uniquely superb but a town pub.

The Tobie Norris

Ancient beams upstairs at the Norris

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Elsewhere, try the King’s Arms, Wing:

King’s Arms

Beer ordered at the King’s

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Fox & Hounds, Exton:

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Blue Ball, Braunston:

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And Horse & Jockey, Manton:

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Finally, The Wheatsheaf, Greetham is building a fine reputation for food:

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For the best Vale of Belvoir pubs, click here.

For the best Charnwood pubs, click here.

Matt Wright
The author:

Matt lives in Leicestershire with his wife, two kids and dog. He is passionate about British pubs, slow food and home brewing. He founded Great Food Club (originally as Great Food Magazine) in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town of Melton Mowbray - Britain's 'Rural Capital of Food'.