Open all day (see description)
The only bitter on offer was the local Butcombe Bitter, which was acceptable but not exceptional.
The bar and restaurant area are well laid out, with original beams etc. There were fireplaces (though as we were there in July I cannot comment on whether they were ever lit in winter). Disabled access possible through the rear entrance, one toilet "adapted" for disabled by being raised on blocks. Several of the tables are in rather cramped positions in gangways. If you are staying there, the staff will allocate you a table and you may have difficulty altering it if you don't like the position. Also, the whole place could do with a good dusting. NB the pub is closed from 2.30-6.45p.m. If you arrive earlier than this, however far you have travelled, you will not be welcomed. We had forgotten, and arrived about 5.30pm, to be met by the frostiest possible reception.
The quality and presentation of the food are excellent. There are 3 menus - bar, restaurant and "things with chips" (grills etc.). Prices for the bar started as low as £5.50 for steak & chips and went up to £14.95 for fillet steak with port & stilton sauce or sliced duck breast with orange curacao sauce, both in the restuarant. The inn offers gourmet breaks with dinner, bed & breakfast at £65 per double room per night, minimum stay 2 nights. The breakfasts were freshly cooked and perfectly adequate, though we were not offered a choice until we asked. Although we stayed for 5 nights, the management never learned nor used our names, never asked if we had had a good day, where we had been etc., nor showed any inclination to listen if we tried to chat to them. The employees were more friendly than the owners and family. Food times are: breakfast 9.00-9.15(!), dinner 7.00-8.45-ish, bar orders 7-8pm.
The room was not at all clean; it was festooned with cobwebs (which were not removed in spite of our request) and there was a thick layer of dust on almost every horizontal surface (bed head, door panels, TV). There were NO toiletries offered (apart from 2 minute bars of VERY cheap soap which were not replaced all week), no clock, no radio, no phone, not even a box of tissues. There was no wardrobe, just a row of hooks on the wall. The room smelled strongly of damp and clothes left hanging felt limp and damp after a few hours. Drawer space was limited to 5 small bedside cabinet drawers. In the minute en-suite, there were more cobwebs and dirty surfaces, especially on the door panels and behind the toilet, which felt greasy to the touch. Conversation with some of the other guests suggested that other rooms were similarly poorly equipped and dirty. One fellow guest said "Don't dare look under your bed!" Prices range from £40 pppn single B&B to £72 per room B&B for 4-poster or room with sitting room. Be warned that you will not be welcome in the bar/restaurant area before 9.00am (nor, indeed, allowed in at all if you are staying in the "Coach House" annex: the door is kept locked until 9.00am on the dot). Also, the owners do not encourage convivial evenings over a few after-dinner drinks - they like to close the bar as early as possible after meals have been served. Their policy appears to be, if you look as if you would like to hang around with a drink or two, to drum their fingers on the bar impatiently, and then ask you to buy all the drinks you will require at once so that they can close the bar and go to bed. Locals do not drink there.
When asked about the very limited period during which breakfast is served, the owner's son said that as it was not a hotel, only a pub, the management had "other things to do rather than wait around serving breakfast" for the convenience of the customers. On our final morning we were presented with a bill which failed to deduct the £58 deposit we had sent. This was corrected when we pointed out the mistake, but no apology was forthcoming.
Best: The food. It was the only reason we stayed on for the 5 nights we had booked.
Worst: Everything else. If we had thought we could find anywhere else with food as good, in peak season, we would have left. (Victoria Heywood)
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