Review: The Berkeley Arms, Wymondham

The Berkeley Arms in Wymondham, east Leicestershire, is an oasis of calm and charm.

It’s a traditional country pub serving good beer and outstanding seasonal food. The beautiful village of Wymondham deserves a pub as good as this, and in husband and wife Neil and Louise Hitchen, the Berkeley Arms has gained custodians (they took over in January 2010) who understand what makes a superb country pub, and who are passionate about good service and excellent food and drink.

Inside the Berkeley Arms is a quarry-tiled bar area with wooden furniture and cosy fireplace surrounded by comfortable sofas. The ancient wooden beams on the ceiling point to the building’s age – it was built in the 16th century. In adjacent rooms you’ll find a slightly more formal dining area and a snug, which is perfect for families with dogs.

Head chef Neil, originally from Uppingham, uses local, seasonal ingredients throughout his cooking, and changes the menu daily. “Villagers bring me all sorts of ingredients,” he says. “A generous chap brought me some blewit mushrooms the other day, and soon after another friendly regular gave me just about every apple he’d picked from a tree up the road. Vernon Moore, the local estate agent, supplies us with partridge and pheasant from a local shoot. It’s fantastic that everyone gets involved – we’re really grateful.”

Sitting beside the fire, I tuck into my starter of Lincolnshire Poacher soufflé, followed by rump of lamb served with a distinctly Moroccan aubergine and tomato casserole (pictured). It’s excellent. My dining partner chooses slow-cooked beef brisket, which is packed with flavour and as tender as they come.

Louise tells us that the beef has been marinated for two days in red wine and aromatics, before being cooked for 12 hours. For pud we can’t resist the apple and blackberry crumble, and cheeseboard, comprising Lincolnshire Poacher, Clawson Stilton and Somerset brie.

Here’s an idea: next time you’re trying to chill out, turn off your iPhone and go to the Berkeley Arms; eat like a king, then doze off on the sofa in front of the fire.

The Berkeley Arms

CUISINE: British, local, seasonal.
PRICE PER HEAD: £35-£40 (for three courses and drinks).
KIDS WELCOME: Yes.
DOGS: Yes – in the bar area when dining by prior arrangement.
CUSTOMER CAR PARKING: Good-sized car park at the rear of the pub.
FOOD TIMES: Mon 6.30pm-9pm; Tues-Sat 12-2pm and 6-9.30pm; Sun 12-3pm.

MENU SAMPLES
STARTERS
Twice-baked Lincolnshire Poacher soufflé £6.95
Grilled local pigeon breast, baby beetroot & hazelnut dressing £5.95
MAINS
Fillet of wild sea bass, tomato risotto, mussels & cockles £16.95
Rump of lamb, spicy aubergine & tomato casserole & cous cous £15.95
PUDS
Local apple & blackberry crumble with custard £5.50
Cinnamon panna cotta with blackberry poached pear £5.50

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'.