...especially when it’s as good as the Three Tuns, writes GILL HARRIS

The Three Tuns 1 High St, Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire SN8 3NU. Tel: 01672 870280

Lunch Tuesday to Sunday, 12.30pm to 2.30pm. Dinner Tuesday to Saturday, 6pm to 9.30pm

It’s a much-loved thing, The Pub, and as quintessentially English as the Queen, queueing, and perpetual moaning about the weather.

Over the centuries, it’s been the scene of everything from brawls and wakes to scandals and singsongs. It’s also the silent star of our most popular soaps – The Woolpack, the Queen Vic, the Rovers Return.

And then in recent years, it got a makeover – and here began the gastropub, beloved at first and then, well, people got a bit sniffy. Was The Pub getting a bit too full of itself?

Bring on The Three Tuns in Great Bedwyn. I had never been to the village before, let alone the pub, and checking out its website was enough to get me drooling. Wood pigeon breast with blackberries, hazelnuts and beetroot... pan fried hake, dahl, coriander and peas... Modern, shishi gastropub, here we come.

So my friend and I headed out through the beautiful Savernake forest on a Tuesday evening, not entirely sure what to expect, but with our tummies rumbling at the thought of sumptuousness.

And our first impression was one of a very happy, well-loved pub with a welcome to warm the cockles. The Three Tuns is cosily old, dating back to 1784, with a healthy crowd of locals enjoying some banter, and some very pally dogs who also seemed to be having a nice time.

We were given a warm welcome at the bar and shown to our seats and given the menu... time for more drooling.

If I’m going to complain (see earlier – quintessentially English) it would have to be that this was one of those menus where you want to eat everything. Caulifower soup, lamb rump, beetroot risotto... it all sounded delicious.

And then there were the specials.

I was seduced by the specials starter of snails and morelles on sourdough bread with bone marrow, while my companion fell for the chorizo Scotch egg.

Mine was an earthy, rich dish and so sumptuous, to be honest, I didn’t really need to eat anything else afterwards. The morelles and snails competed for pungent, meaty flavour and the sauce brought it all together into a woodlandy dream.

“Scotch egg?” I said. “How good can a Scotch egg be?” Well, it was beautiful, richly tasty and moist – quite simply the best I’ve ever tasted (yes, I stole a bit). Asked what she thought, my friend said quite simply: “It was a real triumph. Perfect.”

Can eating get any better than this? Well yes, because then there were the mains.

I stayed on the classic theme and had confit duck with mash, peas, Chantenay carrots and mint, while my friend went for the beefburger (with posh fries and gorgeous extras, of course). The meat on both was stunningly cooked, moist and well-seasoned, while the veg, fries, sauces and so on were, well, again, perfection.

By this point, gout was starting to set in but not wanting to be spoilsports, we had a shufti at the pudding menu.

I’m not much of a dessert gal but I was intrigued by chocolate salami (yes, you heard right) for £1, while my partner in crime had already set her heart on vanilla panna cotta, biscotti and raspberry sorbet. Oh, and because mine was cheaper, I got to try one of the dessert wine options – Chateau St Helen Sauternes (£5).

‘Wow’ would be the word. The chocolate salami was a delicious little swiss roll type slice of dark, brooding chocolate packed with nuts and fruit, and the wine complemented it perfectly.

My friend seemed to like the panna cotta too. I asked what she thought and the reply was something along the lines of: “Mmmm gnnmm nomnomnom”. So that was a success.

But delicious, expertly cooked gastro treats aside, I think what impressed me most about the Three Tuns was what a lovely place it was to be.

Nothing was too much trouble. Throughout our meal, the staff popped over (not intrusively so) to ask if everything was ok and they were genuinely delighted to see us enjoying the food. That friendly, warm welcome extended throughout the evening, from staff and regulars alike.

Don’t be fooled if you go online to check out the menu (and I hope you do) into thinking this is just another gastropub. It isn’t. It’s a proper, beautiful, friendly, old style English pub which just happens to serve fantastic, lovingly prepared food that will knock your socks off.

I wish it was my local, for food is undoubtedly at the heart of this pub. And it’s clearly a pub with a big heart.

l Our bill, for two starters and mains, two soft drinks and two wines, plus dessert came to £69. Starters range from £6 to £10, with mains costing £15 to £20. There is also a bar menu and daily specials.