Review: The Bennetts End, near Ludlow

Sometimes you get a better view from a hill than a mountain.

You’re probably expecting something philosophical now, but I meant it literally. Take the Clee Hills, for instance. Driving up over towering Clee Hill you are greeted by one of the vastest views in England. Stretched out before you are four different counties, and really it looks like you can see the whole length and breadth of all four, a verdant patchwork quilt of rural countryside where you could easily lose yourself daydreaming about a bucolic yesteryear that never was.

Or literally lose yourself, winding through the tiny maze of lanes that link up the little villages and hamlets in the valleys below Clee Hill while searching for the Bennetts End Inn! If you manage to avoid ending up in Rivendell or Brideshead you’ll fetch up at a big whitewashed pub with a good view across the shires. It’s somewhere between Knowbury and Hope Bagot. It could maybe do with a couple of potted bays to smarten up the car park, but inside and out it’s essentially a comfortable and unpretentious pub.

This is a Sunday lunch report, and if we’re talking genuine pub rather than high falutin’ gastropurb then this has to be the yardstick. Rather like green curry at a Thai or canneloni at a local Italian.

Crispy whitebait to start, and about as good as I’ve ever had, chef having taken the trouble to give them a perfect crispy coating rather than a quick dip in the flour. Punchy homemade tartare too.

The roast beef was excellent, generous slices a deep scarlet-pink in the middle. The gravy was very dark but very clear, shining brightly and puddled in the middle of a wickedly crisp Yorkshire pudding. I’ve never made one to this standard, that’s for sure. The roast taters were good, not epic. There was a super gooey bowl of cauliflower cheese and some well-treated veggies too.

For pudding, a raspberry and apple crumble. Now why doesn’t this particular combination show up more often? Cos it’s great. At least, this one was, with plenty of crunchy crumble and a huge jug of velvety homemade custard to balance the tangy pink raspberry and apples.

I’d pay sixteen quid for a great three-course Sunday lunch like this happily. With so many pubs around Ludlow town and this one so cleverly hidden down a nest of tiny country lanes, the best possible conclusion I can offer is: if I fancy taking friends out for Sunday lunch any time soon, I know where I’ll be going.

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