I was looking forward to visiting The Bell at Alderminster just South of Stratford Upon Avon. Apart from being a hugely successful village pub playing an important part in the local village community it also possessed a flourishing restaurant and a growing reputation for its superb accommodation.
The Bell, a former eighteenth century coaching inn is situated in the heart of the picturesque village surrounded by the beautiful Warwickshire countryside and is also part of The Alscot Estate, a thriving country estate employing over 1000 people from the local area.
The award-winning country pub and restaurant boasts nine individual boutique bed and breakfast rooms. Although I was only visiting for a lunchtime meal I very quickly realised that The Bell was a very special place to eat, drink and sleep. At the back of The Bell gardens run down the slopes to a small river. Sitting on the patio enjoying a meal and a drink looking out over the Warwickshire countryside was very pleasing!
The Bell is also a free house so offers its very own draught Alscot Ale and Alscot Monkey, as well as many guest beers from local brewers including the North Cotswold Brewery and Purity Brewing Company. I sampled a pint of the Alscot beer which was very acceptable and easy to drink! Their wine list is also very comprehensive and has been carefully selected for flavour, quality and value.
The Award – winning restaurant changes its menu and `daily specials` regularly to adjust to the plentiful fresh seasonal produce available from the estate farms and kitchen gardens. The Bell has recently achieved AA Rosette status for culinary excellence. There is a full A la carte menu available with a wide choice of nine starters varying from Crispy Duck Egg, Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto & Pink Grapefruit Hollandaise to Herb Infused Rosary Goat’s Cheese, Chicory Leaves, Poached Rhubarb, Macadamia Nuts & Rhubarb Dressing.
The six main dishes on offer range between a tasty looking Pan-fried Fillet of Stone Bass, Parmentier Potatoes, Wilted Spinach, Sorrel Sauce & Cherry Tomato Dressing to BBQ Pulled Jackfruit, Grilled Flatbread, Guacamole, Tomato Salsa & Sour Cream. The Puddings Menu, is `one to die for` with almost every classic dessert on offer with two of my favourites Banoffee Pie and Chocolate Brownie comfortably in the top five! The Bell also offers a range of other dining options throughout the week; Sunday menu, Cream Tea, Afternoon tea, Children`s Menu, a Non – Residents breakfast and Private Dining options.
One of the major benefits of The Bell is that it can also offer a private dining room for that special occasion. I was shown a simply stunning, stylish and sophisticated private dining room with a grand long table down the middle of the room surrounded by plush chairs and decorated with opulent accessories. For those warm summer evening`s the room also has its very own vine covered decked terrace with outdoor seating and lawn garden. What a wonderful space for that special party or occasion!
The Bell only uses good quality, fresh, seasonal local produce so much of the lamb and game served at the restaurant has been resourced form local producers or the Alscot Estate itself. Many of the flowers and vegetables used in the Hotel and restaurant are grown in the estates kitchen gardens.
If you would prefer to choose a meal from the Bar Menu, a delicious menu is available which includes popular sharing boards, and classics such as The Bell’s 8oz beef & thyme burger with smoked mozzarella, bacon and tomato relish served with fat cut chips and salad garnish.
My wife and I decided to choose a meal from the Prix Fixe Menu. There was a choice of three dishes for starters. Parsnip and Cauliflower Soup, Crispy Beef, Asian Slaw & Sweet Chilli Sauce and Sweet Cured Herring, Potato salad and Crostini. As we were choosing the two courses we passed on the tasty choice of starters and opted for the Dessert dishes.
For the Mains, once again there was a choice of three dishes. Beef Meatball Linguine, Rocket and parmesan or Roasted Fillet of Cod, Sauté New Potatoes, Broccoli & White Wine Sauce or Pea & Mint Risotto.
It was a Friday lunchtime so we both went for tradition and chose the Fillet of Cod. We both wanted a healthy and light lunch, the cod dish was perfect. The dish was perfectly presented and looked great. A wholesome piece of cod sitting on top of a couple of small sauté new potatoes and some fresh, crispy broccoli sitting on a warm thin white wine sauce and a slightly bitter, peppery spring of watercress. We both agreed it was a delicious meal.
For Dessert, we got to choose between a Chocolate Tart, Chantilly Cream with a Berry Compote or the Strawberry Eton Mess. My wife and I love to taste each other`s sweets so I went for the tart and my wife the Eton Mess.
My Chocolate tart or chocolate cream pie was a beautiful dessert firm dark chocolate with a stable unsweetened pastry crust. The Crème Chantilly or whipped sweet cream spread was very light and fluffy flavoured with vanilla, the perfect accompaniment to the strong flavours of the pieces of fruit in the mixed berry compote.
My wife was delighted with her Strawberry Eton Mess. Traditionally served at Eton College’s annual cricket game against nearby Harrow School, her dessert consisted of a mixture of quartered strawberries, three small circular meringues sitting on a bed of heavy whipped strawberry flavoured cream, looked and tasted fantastic! We finished our lunch with a coffee whilst we looked out over the Warwickshire countryside completely relaxed.
I was shown the subtly-decorated Garland room is a spacious first floor room located within the converted barn with external access. There is a lovely private raised decked patio with stunning views over the beautiful Stour Valley countryside. The minimally-decorated Garland exudes nautical inspirations- a round window was retained in the conversion and refitted to create a porthole between the bedroom and the spacious bathroom. The room comes with many extras to make your stay one to remember.
All nine of the Bell`s boutique bed rooms have been individually designed to create stylish and extremely comfortable overnight accommodation. For the room interiors Emma Holman-West has applied her design experience combining old with new, and a keen eye for colour and detail to stylishly transform each room with a tasteful twist.
All the rooms have flat screen TVs, free high – speed broadband, and en-suite shower facilities – six of the nine rooms having a bath as well as shower. fresh milk, Alscot blend coffee and hand-made biscuits from the Alscot estates own kitchen.
I enjoyed a wonderful lunchtime meal at The Bell and was given the opportunity to take a tour of the pub, its gardens, outside patio and bedrooms. The Bell is a country pub which also has a fantastic restaurant and provides first class Hotel accommodation in a rural setting. If you are visiting the Stratford Upon Avon locality and are looking for very comfortable pub accommodation where you can also enjoy a first-class meal I would recommend you check out The Bell.
The Bell is part of the four thousand acre historic Alscot Estate, an award – winning country estate headed by Emma Holman-West. Emma Holman-West is the ninth generation West to call Alscot Park home, a magnificently preserved Grade I Rococo gothic style house set in stunning parkland and countryside which she shares with her husband Andrew and their three children. Since inheriting Alscot Park at the age of 19, Emma Holman-West has set about adapting and innovating the Warwickshire estate to transform it into the thriving business and community. The Estate’s portfolio includes 125 residential properties and 140 business premises, ranging from 100 sq. ft. to 150,000 sq. ft. and comprises offices, studios, workshops, warehouses, industrial and manufacturing space, all with ample car parking and close to major transport links, and in turn employing over 1000 people on site.
In 2011 Emma Holman – West was awarded the Bledisloe Gold Medal for Landowners by the Royal Agriculture Society of England. The prestigious medal is awarded to a landowner who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in the successful management and development of a rural estate in England.
The Bell also made it into the Finals of the Muddy Stilettos Awards 2017 (Warwickshire) in the Best Boutique category.
The Bell was a finalist in LABC Building Excellence Awards 2017 – The new two storey contemporary extension was nominated in the category for Best Small Commercial Building.
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