The George and Dragon
Every weekend thousands of people are desperate to get out of London and enjoy a more relaxing time in the country, personally, I usually go and stay with my sister who lives in The Cotswolds and I can be sure that the weekend will be exactly that. That is not to say however that the opportunity of an hotel weekend break doesn't appeal also...... a weekend of doing nothing does have a certain appeal to it.
Well, if you don't have a willing relative, the next best thing in my mind is "The George and Dragon" in Rowde, Wiltshire. Run by three good friends, who all have a catering history in London and have brought all their knowledge with them. The partnership works well, as they all have their own fiefdom that they oversee. Territories are all, but when they meet up, they manage to make you feel that you are part of the family and that the family just has a VERY busy dining room and have some very interesting people popping in for a drink all which makes for a very lovely weekend.
The chef in charge is Chris Day, better known to some as Podge of Soho House, who caters for a very discerning crowd. The G and D has made a well deserved name for itself as having a reputation for fish dishes, the fish come fresh, daily, from Cornwall and is served simply with outstanding side dishes of locally sourced produce.
I have to say that one of the dishes, the potted crab, has to be one of my all time favourites and is worthy of a trip to The G and D on its own, served warm with a cheesy topping, describing it as thus really does not do it justice but as hard as I tried he was not going to let me into the secret, as indeed he shouldn't, but if I was a food buyer from one of the smarter supermarkets i.e. Waitrose, I would be getting him to make enough to stock the shelves with.
The restaurant is country basic but is enriched with the addition of some very savvy locals who work there. They certainly know their onions from their shallots when it comes to whats on the menu and no question goes unanswered or with the classic, I will be back in a moment, I will just ask the chef. Indeed on one occasion I overheard one of the girls asking Chris what the vegetarian options were and if he could do anything else as she knew that one of the bookings was a regular and indeed a vegetarian, who had been in a lot recently so she was trying to please her before she even got there. That attention to detail sums this place up, nothing is too much trouble.
The bar looks like it was a set for an old British movie along the lines of Went the Day Well, the classic Ealing wartime drama. This might have something to do with the fact that there has been a pub on this site since the fifteen hundreds so is steeped with history. The drinks on offer are however completely up to date and if you love a Negroni you will not be disappointed. They have everything that you could possibly want. The bar is manned by Phil and the restaurant and, indeed, the bedrooms are overseen by Michelle.
The three rooms that they have are all individually designed and have the most comfortable beds you can imagine. There is also a vast collection of DVD's for you to choose from should you find yourself having the spare couple of hours, which I doubt as there are some fantastic walks to go on and there are lots of National Trust properties around.
At this time of year April/ May you have the added attraction of one of the most beautiful bluebell woods I have ever seen at West Wood Forest, near the village of Lockeridge, a short drive away, the bluebells reach as far as the eye can see in all directions and really is a wonder of nature. I had the most amazing weekend, really nothing bad to say about it at all. I wonder how long it will be before I give in and go for some more potted crab?
copyright Caroline Richards
For other high lights in the area please have a look at this link http://www.thegeorgeanddragonrowde.co.uk/index.php/local-area/