The George Townhouse
Officially Warwickshire's Best Pub (and who knows what will happen at the National Pub & Bar Awards grand final), this Shipston-on-Stour inn is a winner.
Walk into The George Townhouse and you feel like you’re popping into a friend’s house, your very stylish friend whom you envy ever so slightly for her uncanny knack for bringing together flea markets finds, mismatched cushions and bold colourways with artful panache. Located on Shipston-on-Stour’s main street (I know, I know, I’ve strayed into Warwickshire!), this handsome pub with its elegant collection of Georgian rooms is a far cry from your typical, low-ceilinged, rural affair. Oh yes, this is a perfectly proportioned, 18th-century beauty.
The welcoming Snug with roaring open fire is your first port of call when you walk through the doors and is an inviting spot to sink into a squashy leather armchair with a coffee and the paper – the pub has 15 chic rooms you can stay in, so this could be your perfect breakfast room.
Next up is a long, spacious bar where there are plenty of high stools to perch on over a G&T (they do a nice line of speciality gins) and a fetching mirror and light feature, which could get even more interesting after you’ve had one too many!
To the left is the Pantry restaurant with a shabby chic French dresser, which is hard to keep your eyes off.
And past the bar there are two rooms made for big group celebrations, the Carriage Room and the Parlour, each with a big friendly table and homey touches that really do evoke the feeling of being at a friend’s dinner party.
Finally at the back, there’s a Garden Room with doors onto a small courtyard garden. It’s huge, isn’t it?! And completely gorgeous!
I was quite distracted by the effortless chic of the place and was running around taking photos of every quirky nook and cranny (can you spot me in the mirrors?).
Eventually my sister got fed up and strong-armed me into a seat, thrusting a menu under my nose. And this looked like a pretty tasty mix too, with down-to-earth, pub favourites such as beer battered haddock, chips and crushed peas alongside more haute choices including breast of duck with dauphinoise potatoes, buttered kale and blackberries. My sister and I decided to share a starter of curried crab salad off the specials menu, which was prettily presented and pretty yummy. It didn’t take us long to polish it off and mop it up with some gorgeous olive bread locally baked by Blackmans Artisan.
And then it was on to the main event. My sister dived into an 8oz rump steak (from nearby Todenham Manor Farm, where most of the meat hails from) with chips and peppercorn sauce, which she proclaimed delicious, while I opted for roasted seabass with pesto crushed potatoes and grilled fennel, which was a zingy and good-looking plate of joy. It would have been perfect with glass of Pinot Grigio, but, alas I was driving so no go.
For pudding the hot chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream was calling my sister and me too, but to be different I chose the chocolate pudding with raspberry sorbet.
Both were up there in the yummy pudding charts. And if we’d had no shame we’d have ordered another pud each as there was a warm treacle tart and clotted cream and chocolate bread and butter pudding that were begging to be tried too. But, alas, our British sense of propriety was too strong to overcome, so we nicely thanked the waitress and said, no, nothing else thank you. Sated and inspired by the décor, we left wondering how we could bring a slice of The George’s quirky style to our own homes. Still working on that, so might just need to go back for more inspiration (and that glass of Grigio).
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: A relaxed lunch with friends or family. The two side rooms would be amazing for a big celebration – the Carriage Room seats 10 and the Parlour 14 – and because you’re separated from the rest of the pub you wouldn’t feel inhibited about making some noise or straying into embarrassing conversation territory. If you’re planning a home makeover, you’d definitely find inspiration here.
Not for: I can’t really think who this wouldn’t be for. It pretty much ticks all boxes. Couples could cosy up in the sofas and get intimate, families can spread out and feel comfortable, prop-up-the-bar visitors wouldn’t feel like they needed to sit down to a three-course meal. It’s that great kind of pub that is pretty much all things to all people.
££: Very reasonable for the quality, with starters around £7, mains £12-£18 and puddings £6. On Sundays, traditional roast dinners with all the trimmings are £16.50 per person. The kids’ menu has mains (including a clever cottage pie with hidden vegetables) for £5-£6 and puddings from £2-£4.
The George Townhouse, 8 High Street, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire CV36 4AJ. Tel: 01608 661453. thegeorgeshipston.co.uk