May 15 2013

The King’s Arms, Didmarton, nr. Badminton

When it comes to ticking off country pub boxes, the King’s Arms passes all the tests with flying colours. Gorgeous garden: tick. Plenty of nooks and crannies to hole up in: tick. Friendly staff, dogs made welcome, log fires, stylish knick knackery at every turn, a properly good selection of properly good drinks at the bar: tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. And when it comes to that all-important grub, we can confidently move from tick territory to Gold Star acclaim.

The kitchen at this historic, characterful village inn is overseen by former Marlborough Tavern head chef Richard Knighting, a Hob God who broke the hearts of many Bath Piggies when he left his comfortable Heritage City nest to seek pastures new last year. If you too have missed Richard’s fresh, imaginative flair for putting locally sourced, seasonal produce in the spotlight, you’ve come home: starters such as home-smoked Badminton pigeon salad with bacon and black pudding, mains including south coast plaice with Fowey mussels or confit chicken leg with garlic mash and a very tempting peanut butter parfait, raisin puree and salted peanut tuille leading the way on the dessert front were all trending on the menu on the day we visited, reminding us straight away that we’ve very comfortably landed in the Knighting zone. But it was lunchtime, and it was raining, and hearty fare was the order of the day for The Pig, so we opted for a top-notch charcuterie sharing platter (the chorizo and the wild boar salami worthy of particular acclaim) followed by perfect fish and chips (pictured) and the kind of upper-crust burger that puts all other upper-crust burgers to shame.

Whether you hang out with the well-heeled locals in the snug, go large on the whole fine dining experience in one of the many smart,  seductive supper rooms or make a holiday of it and stay over in one of the inn’s funky, boutique-style stopover havens, you’ll find solace in the King’s Arms. The Pig will most definitely be back soon.

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