An exercise in good taste

Following a substantial and imaginative £1.9m restoration project this summer, The Four Alls in Welford-on-Avon recently re-opened for business.

These alterations, we’ve been told, will result in a completely new kind of pub – ‘rural, peaceful and long-established, yet irrevocably linked to the modern, serving delicious food inspired by the Mediterranean, and all set in picturesque surroundings.’

And it’s all headed up by new General Manager, Claudia Reiter, who previously worked with Raymond Blanc for over 16 years.

After being invited along to see the transformation for myself, I’m delighted to report that the new-look Four Alls – and indeed its new menu – delivers everything it says on the tin. It is truly stunning.

Set on the banks of the river in the picturesque little village, the building has been very sympathetically renovated with the addition of an inglenook fireplace to recreate the cosy feel of a traditional pub. Or, in the summer months, you can take advantage of the very inviting newly paved terrace area, the perfect riverside spot for enjoying a drink or meal.

This project is a triumph fusion of traditional and contemporary in its clever re-imagined design and use of space.

But what of the food? Does the menu live up to the initial wow factor of the setting?

Food service opens for breakfast right through until 10pm daily but it’s cleverly created as an ‘all-day menu’ which is designed to flex through the whole day with a range of imaginative dishes.

Oakman Inns’ Chef Director, Ross Pike, (formerly British Larder in Suffolk) collaborates with his Head Chefs across the 22-strong group to develop their seasonal Mediterranean-inspired menus.

The Spring/Summer menu features ‘Build Your Own’ Pizza or Salad, unusual vegan dishes as well as some new gluten-free and vegetarian dishes. You’ll also find ‘Gary’ the dairy-free vegan cheese alternative featuring in some of the dishes.

Topically too, all the ingredients are responsibly and sustainably sourced and each dish is freshly cooked to order in their open theatre-style kitchen where you can watch the chefs doing their stuff – always a reassuring sign that there is a genuine confidence and pride in their creations.

The Saltimobocca Scotch Egg

I opted for the Saltimobocca Scotch Egg, left, (soft-boiled free-range egg, sage, prosciutto, sausagemeat and hollandaise) for starter which was delicious but perhaps a tad on the ample side. After all, I was keen on sampling something from all three courses on this mouthwatering menu and I suspected this was already going to become a challenge.

But on to main course and it was the Twelve Hour Roasted Pork Belly, below, that quickly caught my eye. Slowly roasted in cider and served with mashed potato, apple puree, tenderstem broccoli and crackling, this was one of the tastiest pork dishes I had ever had the pleasure of devouring.

And it’s family friendly too. For the younger members of the party the sight of a dedicated pizza menu – including a Build Your Own option – proved a big hit – as did the pizzas themselves.

Whether it’s fish, pasta, salads or grill you’re after, there is a vast selection to choose from.

Not forgetting desserts – and who would forget desserts! – there is, again, something for all palates, from the perennial favourites of chocolate brownie and sticky toffee pudding, left, through to Banoffee Sundae (chocolate brownie pieces, Madagascan Bourbon vanilla ice cream, crushed biscuit, baked banana, caramel sauce and mascarpone ice cream) and a Summer pudding (sliced brioche, Madagascan Bourbon vanilla ice cream and summer berry compote). The Passionfruit and Lemon Curd Meringue Mess (with Sicilian lemon sorbet) also sounded appealing.

They have very well stocked bar serving all kinds of spirits, cocktails, wines and beers plus Fair Trade coffee and tea.

So, if you’re looking for a change a scene, but get nervous about trying new places, you’re on safe ground with The Four Alls. This is a beautiful pub in a picturesque setting and with a fantastic menu to match. What’s not to love.

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