Chipping Campden, GL55 6NH | (01386) 593223
The Ebrington Arms in Chipping Campden is an unspoilt 17th century inn offering real ales, good food and a traditional English country pub atmosphere. Has a regular calendar of events spanning themed foods, live music, comedy and quiz nights, as well as five ensuite bedrooms available.
SoGlos beats the rush at The Ebrington Arms near Chipping Campden, discovering a Cotswold country pub punching well above its weight.
Recommended in the Michelin Guide for food, winner of CAMRA North Cotswold Pub of the Year three years running and punching well above its weight when it comes to ambitious plans for the future too, The Ebrington Arms has been on SoGlos’s must visit list for a while now.
Staying at nearby Hidcote Manor Farm, ‘glamping’ in Feather Down Farm luxury, but with nothing more than a wood burning stove to cook on, pub lunch cravings had reached full capacity after day three of baked beans and Pot Noodles – giving us the perfect excuse to finally give the Cotswolds pub near Chipping Campden a whirl.
More of a pint-sized boozer from the outside than we were perhaps expecting, inside The Ebrington Arms gave way to a tardis of nooks and dining areas complete with plenty of cosy seating areas, as well as a great big open fire perfect for the colder months – but not in the middle of a heat wave!
With a toddler in tow we headed for the well-maintained garden out back, where a handful of wooden benches tempted summer ale drinkers. Flower pots added a ping of colour, with neat grass to run around on, but the Wendy house in one corner proved the biggest hit with the nipper – giving us a chance to concentrate on picking from the confidently compact menu brimming with local produce.
The bread, oil and olives ordered to start were nothing short of superb – fantastic quality, moreish and a testament to the simple-is-best adage. It was also the perfect accompaniment to a few halves of local beer – The Ebrington’s modest bar is brimming with nothing but the best of the region. A Hill Climb from Prescott Brewery, Budding from Stroud Brewery, and Uley Bitter from Uley Brewery – not forgetting the pub’s very own Yubby Bitter. Each as well kept and presented as the last, with Westons’ Stowford Press and Cotswold Brewing Co’s Cotswold Premium also on offer for those after something more fizzy.
Described by staff as a true favourite, I had immediate plate envy as the regular special of fish and chips was placed in front of my partner. The light and crispy beer batter covered a huge piece of steaming hot white fish which fell apart at the touch of a fork. The accompanying ramekins of homemade mushy peas and tartar sauce were spot on, with a generous bowl of satisfyingly crunchy chips to enjoy too. The Kilner-style jar of ketchup was another example of genuine attention to detail.
My hearty main course of ‘pork pie’, also from the specials board, was a little heavy for such a hot day, but another well executed dish nonetheless. Succulent, juicy slow-cooked pork was topped with a fluffy mash, with a side jug of rich gravy to pour at will. A mini casserole dish contained a side helping of fresh local broad beans and green beans – lightly cooked, vibrant and bursting with field fresh flavours. A proper country pub lunch if ever there was one.
The selection of cheeses with fruit bread and celery sounded lovely – but we were quite simply too stuffed to sample another morsel, and skipping puds, we finished the fine meal with a couple of excellent, piping hot lattes.
After a relatively short time at the pub we were impressed to see the bar, and just about every table going, had all filled up with a mix of working locals and day-tripping tourists – pretty unheard of for a normal Wednesday afternoon, and it was nice to hear customers greeting Jim behind the bar – who owns the venue with wife Claire – like an old friend.
We were fortunate enough to have quick tour from Jim before the lunchtime rush hit, and were taken aback by how far things have come since they took on The Ebrington Arms in 2007: including a full renovation, opening up five B&B rooms, brewing their bitter and becoming a true family business after the birth of their two little ones – with innovative and ambitious plans for the coming years too.
Set in the rural Cotswolds, the Ebrington Arms is a testament to British, let alone Gloucestershire, pubs – and is a fine example of what a country inn should be like. Local ales aren’t just a buzz word, they’re at the heart of the operation. Okay, it’s not the cheapest of places to eat out, but the kitchen is serving up some genuinely great two AA Rosette grub. And the staff were attentive, welcoming and friendly.
If you manage to nab a table before the rush, we’d recommend doing so – find out for yourself why the awards and accolades keep coming.
By James Fyrne
Wednesday 28 August 2013
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