Tucked away in a little Wiltshire village 10 minutes north of Stonehenge, making it a perfect spot to break a journey to the West Country, is the Red Lion Freehouse in East Chisenbury.
This is no ordinary pub, but a food destination that makes the most of the plethora of wild fruits and herbs that grow nearby. The garlic mustard (or Jack-by-the-hedge) that grows on a bank facing the front door is made into pesto to serve with caramelised ox tongue, poached pheasant eggs and sweet cicely join asparagus, and the nettle soup with crisp snails is accompanied by wild-garlic Chantilly.
This is country cooking at its very finest, the sort that’s simply impossible in London or other great cities. Here, staff are sent out during service to pick herbs and the host’s springer spaniel is front of house, making friends with the customers.
Unsurprisingly, it’s been awarded a Michelin star, thanks to the efforts of its patrons, Guy and Britt Manning. The homemade hams, which hang in the attic, are worth the award on their own. I was there to fish and stayed in the new guest room by the River Avon, however, despite one suicidal dace, the fishing was fun rather than fruitful as it was so early in the season. Never mind-the food’s the thing.
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