Review: Wellington Inn, near Colwall

PUBLISHED: 14:08 30 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:02 20 February 2013

At last, a proper pub

At last, a proper pub

Philippe Boucheron lights on a proper pub that serves real ale and<br/>fresh sandwiches as well as excellent dinners: the Wellington Inn, near Colwall

Philippe Boucheron lights on a proper pub that serves real ale and

fresh sandwiches as well as excellent dinners: the Wellington Inn, near Colwall

Do you ever get the feeling that far too many landlords are forgetting what a pub should be? So many of them have jumped onto the gastro-pub bandwagon. As a result it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a proper pub with a choice of honest ales on tap, where you can get a well-filled freshly-made sandwich, enjoy a budget week-day lunch, or relax over an excellent lunch or dinner.

Well meet the Wellington Inn on the A449 Malvern to Ledbury road, at a spot called Chances Pitch after a carrier who used to hire out extra horses to help pull wagons up the hill to Little Malvern. A stone's throw from British Camp, it is on the cusp between two counties with a Worcester post code, but actually in Herefordshire. Built on the side of a hill, the pub appears to be rather like a flight of canal locks, with the public bar at the bottom, rising up though the lounge bar with an open fire in winter, to more levels for the 50-cover restaurant.

The landlord is Giles Goodhew, brother of Olympic swimmer Duncan. He is the third generation of publicans serving honest food. In1929 his grandfather, who had been a director of London brewers Watney's, took the plunge and with a partner set up a chain of Goodhews pubs - all serving draught Watney's in the ground-floor pub with good, inexpensive food in the first-floor restaurant. For many years I would lunch at least once a week at one of their pubs behind Liberty's in London's Regent Street.

Like so many businesses Goodhews was snapped up by an acquisitive brewer and got lost in a morass of awful eating pubs. After a spell in the wholesale wine trade Giles has gone back to his roots and is thoroughly enjoying running a pub. His only problem is that although the A449 is busy enough, the Wellington is on a steep part of the road and far too many motorists simply rush past, not knowing what they are missing.

The house draught beer is Goffs' delicious Tournament. At 2 a pint it is an amber thirst-quencher with a delicate floral aroma and a hoppy bittersweet finish. This real ale, from the small award-winning family brewery in Winchcombe, is accompanied by one or two guest beers.

Wine lovers will not be disappointed as there are always some excellent value wines by both the glass and the bottle. Giles not only enjoys his wine, but has a great appreciation of the subject. So you can enjoy a glass of mature Rioja with a toasted steak sandwich, or a crisp Chenin Blanc from the Loire with prawns.

The 6.95 weekday lunch menu has a choice of starter, main dish, or pudding if you choose to do without the starter. It is changed each week and on my visit offered either a bowl of home-made soup or chicken satay, fisherman's pie or minute steak with mushrooms, tomatoes and chips, followed by treacle tart or plums poached in red wine.

Chef Paul Haywood's restaurant menu, supplemented by daily specials on the chalk board, has family favourites such as beer-battered cod fillets and liver and bacon with champ and onion confit - but with flashes of haute cuisine chutzpah that take it out of the commonplace to a gastronomic plane. Take for example his exemplary roast scallops with a warm lobster vinaigrette that were perfectly cooked and beautifully sauced. Or his Greshingham duck, cooked pink and served on a bed of pearl barley and bacon with roasted Jerusalem artichokes and chestnuts. These were dishes that fully demonstrated his understanding of flavour and balance, and his ability to combine ingredients that add excitement and pleasure for the fortunate diner.

So the next time you find yourself on the road to Malvern or Ledbury, stop off at the Wellington. Incidentally it is the nearest pub to Eastnor Castle where, for some obscure reason, licensed premises are forbidden in the village.

The Wellington Inn, Colwall 01684 540269

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