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Authentic, unpretentious and simply delicious, decides Jo Rees on visiting the village dining pub near Stroud

The Bell at Selsley Gloucestershire Authentic, unpretentious and simply delicious, decides Jo Rees on visiting the village dining pub near Stroud T he term ‘gastropub’ may be ever so noughties but, while the terminology is a bit old hat, it has left a legacy of lovely British pubs where you can eat extremely well.

You know the places: they’re usually run by a couple (one of whom is the chef and has previously worked somewhere prestigious) who keep a fabulously stocked bar (typically featuring an impressive selection of gins) and who have smartened the decor to the point that you feel you really ought to at least pair a nice top with your jeans when you visit.

Use of quality local produce is another sign of being a member of the club, and The Bell at Selsley ticks all of the above – from sourcing whole lambs from a neighbouring farmer to amassing an astonishing collection of spirits.

VISIT for really good cooking that’s loads better than you could muster up at home, yet without being so rich that it leaves you feeling overwhelmed.

Our starter of smoked haddock and dill rillettes was fresh, lemony, light on the dressing and served with unadorned crisp sourdough toast in celebration of modest things done well.

A main of beautiful five-hour-cooked blade of beef was also pleasingly pared-back – despite being attended by creamy champ and a griddled half shallot and served on a bed of sticky red cabbage. What it (happily) lacked was the heavy handedness with butter and seasoning which so often accompanies slow-cooked dishes from the gastropub canon. Chef proprietor Mark Payne’s cooking is beautifully sparing in style and all the more pleasing for it. You could eat here every night of the week and still feel perky.

DON’T VISIT if you’re the designated driver as that gin collection – plus the crowd-pleasing wine list – will require your attention. And, naturally, you’ll want to finish with the ‘gin’ gato dessert which comprises a scoop of luscious homemade vanilla ice cream drenched – affogato style – in rhubarb and ginger gin liqueur. Sounds quirky, tastes yum and, yes, it may be served in a bowl but it definitely counts as a unit of alcohol.

WE LIKED the opportunity to spend the night in one of the two rustic rooms over the pub. Featuring attractive decor and comfy beds, with the opportunity for a hearty cooked breakfast the next morning, The Bell chimes all the right notes.

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