Planning a gourmet weekend in Wiltshire? Here are five superb dining spots to add to your itinerary
The Castle Inn, Chippenham
At the heart of the Cotswold‑stone village of Castle Combe sits this characterful 12th‑century coaching house. It’s a well‑loved spot where those who’ve spent the day rambling the countryside or teeing off at sister venue The Manor House’s 18‑hole golf course gather to feast on authentic country fare.
Satiation can be found in head chef Jamie Barnett’s crowd‑pleasing two AA rosette menus, which offer an upmarket take on traditional pub classics. In summer, ravenous patrons devour the likes of wild boar lasagne with Tunworth cheese, summer truffle and herb salad while sitting out on the sunny terrace. In winter, a cosy dining room with log fire awaits. For special celebrations and group dinners, the Oak Room offers intimate private dining for up to 12.
The Bunch of Grapes, Bradford-on-Avon
A rural village pub may be the unlikely setting for cutting-edge cooking, but it’s where Tony Casey crafts intriguing compilations which play with flavour, texture and style. The talented chef skippered kitchens in Bath and Bristol before taking over The Bunch of Grapes in 2018, and the cities’ losses have been Bradford-on-Avon’s gain.
Kick off your visit with cocktails as you ponder the difficult choice laid before you: should you pick what you fancy from the à la carte, or throw caution to the wind and plump for the tasting menu? Either way, top-quality ingredients take centre stage in standout dishes such as brill with cockles, coconut broth, shitake and pak choi, and puds such as mascarpone mousse with miso ice cream, meringue and strawberry yogurt.
Sign of the Angel, Chippenham
If you’re looking for a dining experience with oodles of history and a romantic atmosphere, Sign of the Angel delivers it in spades.
Creaking wonky floorboards, stone fireplaces and winding stairways make this inn a favourable dining destination for fans of period dramas and historical romances. The stone cottages and cobbled streets of the National Trust-owned village of Lacock have appeared in many a costume drama, including Pride and Prejudice and Downton Abbey.
Whether you’re visiting for a light lunch or a special evening meal, the dining ethos at this pub is purposely relaxed and easygoing. On a summer’s day there’s also a beautiful garden where you can enjoy small plates, salads and cream teas next to a babbling stream.
Red Lion Freehouse, Pewsey
Picture all the charms of a country pub – thatched roof, flagstones, locals at the bar, real ales on tap and a warm welcome – and combine them with the prowess of two talented chef-owners who craft restaurant dishes with wow factor, and it’s little surprise this family‑run local has won a raft of foodie accolades and become a sought‑out dining destination.
Everything at this village pub near Salisbury Plain is crafted with superb attention to detail, from the pub‑snack scotch eggs to the sumptuous tasting menu. If something can be made in‑house, it is. If not, owners Brittany and Guy Manning will source it from top‑notch producers.
Dishes such as wild brill with samphire, Shetland mussels, garden potatoes, dill and langoustine bisque showcase Guy’s superb creativity. Pastry chef Brittany’s formidable skills come to the fore in the likes of raspberry sorbet with wasabi, lime curd and zested shortbread.
Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Colerne
Wind your way up the tree‑lined driveway that runs through the 500 acres surrounding Lucknam Park to discover one of England’s most astonishingly beautiful country house hotels.
Elegance is the watchword at this Palladian mansion, yet the experience isn’t pretentious. Contemporary elements such as the luxury spa and a relaxed brasserie provide an alternative to the decadent dining experience at Restaurant Hywel Jones.
The latter is the reason Lucknam has retained a Michelin star for 17 consecutive years and why gourmets flock to this Wiltshire gem. The best way to explore Hywel’s culinary prowess is to plump for his seasonal tasting menu.