An 18th century yeoman from Buriton would feel at ease in the village’s pub, The Five Bells.
Okay, the electricity and the coffee machine might bamboozle and fascinate him in equal measure. But he’d love the simple rusticity the pub offers in this handsome, tucked-away village in the Hampshire hills near Petersfield.
The very attractive stone and brick-clad building hides a series of small rooms. Turn left to a red painted dining area complete with huge fireplace and scrubbed, inviting tables, with the pub bar and lounge/games area to the right. A bar in the middle of the pub serves both sides.
The pub side sports a mix of herringbone, wood and stone flooring, with wooden settles and a mix of the kind of chairs found in schoolrooms and churches. A brick and stone fireplace is home to a wood-burning stove and the only jarring modern note is found in the games room beyond, where dining chairs are covered in hotel-like, head-to-foot black covers.
There’s a sheltered terrace and garden and James Taylor plays in this very congenial place, part of the Hall and Woodhouse group.
Most of the menu wouldn’t frighten an 18th century visitor, although chilli with cheese topping in a tortilla, moussaka, penne chicken Diavolo or tagliatelle carbonara would be a mystery. But his eyes would light up with the conservatively familiar cottage pie with vegetables; liver and bacon with onion gravy; steak and chips; pork chop with vegetables and apple sauce; cod and chips; coarse pork pâté with toast and cranberry sauce; omelettes and sandwiches.
Wednesday nights are Steak for Two nights at just under £18. The Five Bells’ prices are good value, with mains around £7-£12 for homemade food cooked mainly by the landlord.
A pork chop (£11.95) with apple sauce, vegetables and potatoes, cooked to order, was excellent, the quality meat well-seasoned and tender. Good beans and some of the best carrots I’ve eaten for a while came with this. Poor apple sauce was the only letdown.
Home-made desserts are on the cards too. Choose from chocolate brownie; lemon cheesecake with ginger crunch base; jam roly poly; apple crumble and sorbets. I went for the latter and it couldn’t be faulted.
Nor could the service. A charming, helpful staff member was quite exceptional. The pub is fortunately in an area where there’s no mobile phone service, so talking, tweeting and texting is confined to the top of the car park.
Take advantage and enjoy a quiet, pleasant experience by going back in time.
Five Bells, High Street, Buriton, Petersfield, Hampshire GU31 5RX
Tel: 01730 263584
Open: 11am–11pm every day
Food: Four (out of five)
Disabled access: Fine
How to get there: Take the A3 (M), then the A3. Exit at Petersfield/Buriton on to the B2070 and follow signs to Buriton. The pub is on the High Street. Car park.