The best places to eat, stay, shop and visit in the South West

Three Tuns Freehouse, Great Bedwyn

The wall hanging at the entrance of Three Tuns Freehouse may state ‘no thieves, fakers, rogues or tinkers’ but rules are made to be broken, and it would be criminal not to steal some inspiration from the kitchen at this thoroughly foodie country pub, says Kathryn Lewis

Eager to return to his Wiltshire roots after years in London, James Wilsey and wife Ashley took over Great Bedwyn’s handsome inn in 2012.

And while they gave the rustic interior a declutter and contemporary re-style, it was the food that underwent the biggest revolution. To such an extent that now everything, from bread and ice cream to kimchi, is crafted by the small team in the kitchen.

VISIT for dynamite pub cooking and screw-it-it’s-the-weekend vibes. The whole menu screams ‘ditch the diet, let’s have some fun’ – albeit in a seasonal and locally-sourced kind of way.

Sweet ’n’ salty cola cooked ham comes with seasoned chips which are begging to be dipped in the jammy fried egg yolks, while a smoked bacon scotch egg with sidekick of nosetinglingly mustardy celeriac remoulade and crunchy pork scratchings would happily feed two as a starter (yeah, right).

And if there are few things that can’t be improved by proper slow-cooked pulled pork, then the Three Tuns’ seriously stringy and incredibly creamy mac ’n’ cheese certainly isn’t going to be the exception that proves the rule.

DON’T VISIT for silver service and a quiet night for two as the friendly freehouse thrums with locals on Friday and Saturday evenings. Joining the throng sipping seasonal cask ales at the bar before dinner is your absolute best bet. If you can’t beat ’em …

WE LIKED the pimped up puds in pub-sized portions.

Dining pubs have a bad rep for being lazy when it comes to dessert (another sticky toffee pudding anyone?) but the Three Tuns’ sweet conclusions are pleasingly unconventional. Vibrant stewed strawberries and blushed rhubarb flecked with forest green mint and topped with nut crumble pushed the limits of gluttony on our visit – yet we still scraped the dish clean of every last drop of velvety crème anglaise.

Note: don’t be deceived by the petite proportions of the Snickers salami. This chocolate-lover’s desert island dish packs enough rich cocoa, gooey caramel and peanuts to floor many a pudding fan. But hey, who doesn’t love a challenge?

Insider's tip

Order Tuns pub faves such as the bavette steak with mustard butter and triple cooked chips to takeaway if you’re more up for an evening in your pjs.

Indy Cafe Cookbook Volume 2
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