Saturday 27 December 2014

The Fleece Inn, Bretforton, Worcestershire

An unspoilt period pub in a peaceful village in the Vale of Evesham on the fringes of the Cotswolds, the Fleece is a museum piece owned by The National Trust. Dating from the seventeenth century, the timbered frame building was badly damaged by a fire a decade ago. But it appears to have been painstakingly restored and the interior takes you back in time. The low ceiling is held up by blackened timbers, while the flagstone floor is heavily worn and uneven. The windows are lead-paned, the fireplaces are ancient, the walls are lined with antique crockery and pewter, and the wooden furniture is a pleasing mismatch of benches, chairs and snugs. With the fires roaring on a cold winter's day, The Fleece is one of the cosiest pubs you can hope to visit.

While not as special as the building itself, the Fleece serves respectable hand-pulled ales and home-made food. The light and smooth Wye Valley real ale makes a good lunchtime pint. To eat, the mince and stilton pie (about a tenner) is a tad small, but tasty enough. The accompanying mustard mash is very good, as is the cabbage and the carrots. The beer battered cod and chunky chips (also about £10), served with a pea puree on a wooden chopping board, is nicely cooked and well presented. The menu also features a few left-field dishes, such as a mushroom and halloumi burger, fried lamb's liver and faggots. The kids' menu is good value, but less imaginative, offering chicken nuggets and the like. With friendly, helpful and youthful waiting staff, the Fleece is an enjoyable and atmospheric place to eat. 8/10