Guide to the best country pubs: Pt 2
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
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 head chef Sean Hope
Olive Branch dining room
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
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
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…
The wonderfully restored Tobie Norris of Stamford is uniquely superb but a town pub.
The Tobie Norris
Ancient beams upstairs at the Norris
Elsewhere, try the King’s Arms, Wing:
Beer ordered at the King’s
Fox & Hounds, Exton:
Blue Ball, Braunston:
And Horse & Jockey, Manton:
Finally, The Wheatsheaf, Greetham is building a fine reputation for food:
For the best Vale of Belvoir pubs, click here.
For the best Charnwood pubs, click here.