Review: The Wheel, Branston, Leics

Published on February 3, 2013

By Matt Wright

I love unpretentious, friendly and welcoming village pubs. I’m talking about the sort of places that haven’t forgotten how to be honest pubs but are also clearly passionate about good food, beer and making customers feel loved and at home.

The Wheel in Branston, Vale of Belvoir, ticks all these boxes. It’s a charming, compact and family-run free house (it used to be a Batemans pub) that serves impressive, locally sourced food, often via dishes you wouldn’t expect from a village pub. The kitchen here really knows its onions.

Walkers are welcome (so are dogs – in the bar) and you won’t be made to feel naughty for treading mud into the quarry tiles and wooden floorboards. The decor is simple, as is the furniture, and the place is kept spotlessly clean. What more could you want from a village pub?

On visiting for Sunday lunch, we chatted with the staff and a few locals and were impressed by the warm atmosphere, literally and metaphorically (the roaring fire was welcome). Three real ales were available: Batemans XB (which is always on), Hoplite by Derby’s Derventio Brewery, and Cornish Trawler by Skinner’s of Truro. Landlord Tom Wood has had the great idea of putting a small sample of each brew in a jam jar in front of its handpump, so drinkers can see whether they are ordering a pale or a dark beer. Other pubs take note!

Jars showing the shade of each ale – ingenious!

The chalkboard menu offered a range of inventive creations, with starters including crispy pig cheek salad; baked apple, goats’ cheese and walnut salad; and Jerusalem artichoke soup with pub-made bread. We had the soup – beautifully thick and delicious – and the goats’ cheese salad – lovely and warm, with the soft acidity of the baked apple working a treat with the walnuts and highlighting the creaminess of the cheese.

For mains we chose roast sirloin of beef (from Blackberry Farm, Clipston, Notts) and Yorkshire pudding: the perfect choice for a Sunday in February. I was impressed to hear that much of the pub’s veg comes from an allotment in nearby Knipton.

Head to The Wheel and prepare to be charmed!

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'.