Chilton Foliat, Hungerford, RG17 0TE
Since taking over The Wheatsheaf four years ago, MasterChef semifinalist Ollie and singer-songwriter Lauren Hunter have totally transformed what was previously a struggling local into an award-winning destination renowned for its first-rate food and crowd-pleasing music nights. The beautifully restored building ensures that guests feel right at home from the get-go. The thatched roof exterior leads to a cosy, comfortable interior that centres on a handsome, amply stocked bar and offers many a nook and cranny to retreat to. Live music, art exhibitions, cookery classes and breakfast clubs take place throughout the week, so it’s always worth consulting the calendar to see what’s in store. When it comes to food, don’t miss out on the wood-fired pizzas. Ollie and Lauren shipped their terracotta oven from Florence a couple of years ago and have been preparing Italian-inspired pizza ever since. They’ve perfected the dough recipe, which is prepared fresh every day and allowed to prove for at least 24 hours before it’s ready to be cooked to perfection. Like much of the produce that makes its way into The Wheatsheaf’s kitchen, many of the generous pizza toppings are sourced from Ollie’s parents’ farmstead and gardens at Hungerford Park, just three miles away. If you prefer to enjoy pizza from the comfort of your own home, thankfully you can order one of The Wheatsheaf’s pizzas to take away – you’ll just have to pick up a bottle of wine on the way home. As far as the rest of the offering goes, the team maintains a keen focus on an organic ethos as well as seasonality and provenance. The superb-quality produce sourced from Ollie’s mum’s farm is used in The Wheatsheaf’s main menu and is supported by a cast of handpicked veg, fish and charcuterie obtained from a cadre of trusted suppliers, guaranteeing quality. Expect seasonal dishes such as venison with homemade tagliatelle and pan-fried wild gurnard with wild mushroom spelt risotto. Ollie and Lauren’s hard work has resulted in The Wheatsheaf being voted ‘the most sustainable pub in Britain’ by the Sustainable Restaurant Association and awarded 3 stars for their use of organic produce by the Soil Association. This makes for an impressive list after just four years in business.