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The Crown & Anchor, Ham

This friendly village pub with classy rooms and some of the best food in the county makes for a great Wiltshire day trip or perfect weekend break from London.

Weekend Escapes

A foodie inn on a picture-perfect village green close to the Wiltshire/Berkshire border is a welcome sight. Tasteful-traditional interiors, flagstone floors, antique furniture, a roaring wood-burner and friendly staff await you.

However the food. Oh my, the food is punching well above its weight and shoots this place to the top of our list over the course of one greedy Sunday lunch. We went for the roasts obvs: the black treacle cured beef sirloin, sourced from Vicars Game down the road in West Berks, was terrific – tender and flavoursome and immediately competes for best ever. How do they get humble vegetables to taste like that? I enquired and was told something about roasting and butter, but frankly I was too busy cramming down carrots to remember. This is why we go out to eat, so someone can feed us something we just couldn’t do ourselves.

My companions were similarly enthusiastic about the roast pork –  fennel seed and lemon marinated loin – and reluctant to share, particularly the crackling. And can we just say, significant words when it comes to roasts, extra gravy. It arrived unrequested, which is surprisingly rare.

Puddings of treacle sponge with banana sorbet and apple & blackberry crumble were also pretty darned perfect. All traditional British food, but done with a modern twist and just a whiff of fine dining. Happy to say that whiff is in the quality, not the portions, which are hearty. Maybe fine dining is too prissy a term for this; maybe this is just downright talent. We reckon chef Gert Pienaar might just be a name to watch. It’s not the cheapest, but as it might well be the best it’s still good value.

During the week the menu is pub classics, done impeccably: beer battered fish, Caesar salad, burgers, mixed in with high-end specials with an emphasis on local game: wood pigeon with black pudding, venison haunch, often squid or scallops. The wine list is a decent length and starts around £20; we tried an unfamiliar South African rosé at the lower price end, and were impressed.

Eight lovely en-suite bedrooms are classily furnished, and a tempting proposition for a weekend break (indeed, they were a Muddy Awards finalist for Best Boutique Stay). They also manage a couple of holiday cottages in the village. Finding 100 Acres hand wash/cream in the bathrooms always makes us happy.

A brand new private dining room is available for hire, and suitable for socials and work do-s with a projector and french windows opening onto the pretty terrace.

This is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so combine your meal or stay with one of the many great walks from the door. The whole place is dog-friendly, so no need to leave fido behind. We’re always looking for places to meet London friends half-way – this is just perfect for that, and we can’t wait to return.

This month in Berkshire

Crown & Anchor, Ham, Wiltshire, SN8 3RB
01488 503040

Opening hours
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 12pm – 11pm
Thursday: 12pm – 11pm
Friday: 12pm – 11pm
Saturday: 12pm – 11pm
Sunday: 12pm – 4pm

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