Guide to the best country pubs: Pt 1
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
CHEQUERS, Woolsthorpe by Belvoir
On opening a front door plastered with food/pub/Michelin/Sawday’s guide stickers, a blast of warmth from the fire greets your cheeks, an aroma of woodsmoke and roast beef tweaks your nostrils, and your eyes rest on a large, well-stocked bar serving Greene King IPA, Woodforde’s Wherry, Everards Tiger, Old Rosie scrumpy and a vast array of lagers.
Rural pubs don’t come much more inviting than the Chequers. You could happily settle in for an entire weekend, and judging by word-of- mouth recommendations and the busy restaurant area on our visit, the food is good. Situated a stone’s throw from Belvoir Castle in a pretty village, it’s made for Sunday lunch.
THE RED LION, Stathern
Vale of Belvoir residents (Beaverers?) are rather spoilt when it comes to country pubs. The Red Lion is special.
Friendly, warm and rustic, with an open fire and wood-burning stove, it’s as if the Patron Saint of English Pubs has bought himself a large farmhouse and converted it to exactly how he’d like it.
THE WHEEL INN, Branston
Full of character and with a reputation for impressively creative, good food, the Wheel at Branston is comfortable and friendly.
The notes from our visit say: “Warm welcome, open fire, wooden floor, honest feel, good beer.” That sums it up, really.
VALE OF BELVOIR’S BEST OF THE REST
Large Charles Wells pub the Peacock at Redmile (above) would make it into the top three in other Leicestershire territories, but the Vale of Belvoir, like Rutland, is fertile pub territory.
Diesel the Jack Russell is a regular at the Peacock
The Crown at Sproxton (above) is on the rise and recently won an East Midlands Tourism bronze medal.
The Manners Arms at Knipton (above) is another good country pub with a fine reputation.
One of the Manners’ dining rooms
For the best Rutland pubs, click here
For the best Charnwood pubs, click here