I had a few hours to kill in Wootton B, but after wandering the high street, none of the other pubs grabbed me. Later, I was exploring the side roads with lots of charming old cottages and stumbled across The Five Bells.
The building is obviously very old, with thatched roof and plenty of character. However, the best bit is inside. I had a warm welcome from a lady who may or may not have been the landlady (think she sounded American, possibly). I was really impressed with the great range of real ales (and some real ciders) on offer, and was offered a taste of one that I wasn't familiar with. From memory, the ales were; London Pride, St Austell Tribute, Butty Bach and Black Sheep best bitter which is the one I chose. It was an excellent pint and obviously they know how to look after their beers (as well as their customers!). They also appear to have a good quality range of wines, inc, sparkling - judging by the blackboards listing their selection. I didn't eat here, but I imagine that along with everything else about this pub, it would be better than the average.
I was the first to go into the pub when it opened at noon, but was soon followed by several locals. Half an hour later and there were several people at the bar, a few tables taken and a party of people in the back bar who had booked for lunch. Not a bad turnout for a Wednesday lunchtime, and gives you confidence that this pub is doing things well due to a loyal following.
There are two bars at the front, one slightly more of a public bar and the other more lounge/snug with comfortable settees, etc. There is another area to the rear of the pub which appears to be the main dining area and has a dart board. Out back, there is a huge covered terrace/smoking area with patio heaters for the diehard, all year smokers. There was even a pile of blankets left there for those chilly nights when one has to go outside for a gasper (damn those nanny state politicians!!). Such small touches goes above and beyond normal service and merits high praise for the landlord/lady and staff.
If you're visiting Wootton B, I would pass by most of the other pool table and jukebox type pubs in the High St, and make for The Five Bells. Thanks to all there for a most enjoyable couple of hours spent in your pub. Shame I live so far away!
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