1. Best for strawberry cream teas
What better taste of summer than to relax with a deeply indulgent strawberry cream tea, on a patio beside a lake at Malt Kiln Farm Shop and Cafe, Stretton-under-Fosse. Also see what pick-your-own crops are ripe and ready on the family farm, and browse the shop for locally grown goodies to take home.
2. Best ice cream parlour
Savour a cool treat in the 16th-century ice cream parlour and tea rooms at Henley-in-Arden, where Henley Ice Cream has been served since the 1930s. With more than 40 farm-made flavours on offer, you’ve some tricky decisions – vanilla or coffee, strawberry or clotted cream, raspberry swirl or ginger & lime? Take your time, after time, after time.
3. Best gastropub experience
The Bell at Alderminster scooped ‘Gastro Food Pub of the Year’ in The Publican Food & Drink Awards 2010 and 97% of fare it serves is sourced locally. Tuck into meltingly tender Alscot-reared lamb or Warwickshire beef, homemade ice creams or regional cheeses like Warwickshire Forest Blue Stilton. Seasonal ingredients bring new temptations whenever you visit this stylish 18th-century coaching inn.
4. Best dining beneath crystal chandeliers
Luxuriate in fine dining elegance beneath crystal chandeliers in the Moncrieffe Restaurant (AA 2 rosette) at Barceló Walton Hall Hotel, Wellesbourne. Country house courtesies, beautiful garden views, exquisite dishes of local lamb and English Classics puddings – whisk yourself away to a world of gourmet romance.
5. Best for the ‘perfect serve’
Raise a glass to divine drinking at The Bluebell, Henley-in-Arden, where executive general manager Shack Wilson has tirelessly researched the ‘perfect serve’ of more than 130 tipples: from cask ales to cocktails, from the ideal head on a beer to the deftest swoop of lime around a glass. Try the signature ‘Bluebellini’ made from Prosecco and strawberry juice, just the twist on tradition you might expect from a 500-year-old inn suffused with modern chic.
6. Best for cheese, please
Not for nothing was Hillers awarded Best Rural Retailer 2010 by the Countryside Alliance. The shop at Dunnington Heath Farm is packed with quality produce, including a cheese counter that displays over 100 cheeses, many of them English. Local specialities like Fowlers Warwickshire Arden Oak Smoked Truckle are showcased and there are regular cheese tastings. One nibble is never enough.
7. Best for craft brews
For ‘hands-on’ craft brewing and a wide range of excellent individual beers look no farther than Church End Brewery. Over 40 distinct products include fruit beers made with real fruit, herb beers made with fresh herbs, wheat beers made with a high proportion of malted wheat. Take a tour or simply drop into the Tap Room or Vestry for a refreshing, cask-conditioned pint.
8. Best for a casual supper with friends
Maybe it’s the leather sofas in the lounge area, maybe it’s the party menu, maybe it’s the appetisers and choice desserts designed for sharing: whatever it is, AA-awarded Essence in the market town of Alcester is a great choice for supper with friends. Menus are modern British, local and seasonal, with a sprinkle of international influences.
9. Best for cake heaven
Step into vanilla sponge heaven at Rachel’s Cupcakes, on Yew Tree Farm, Wootton Wawen. And not just vanilla, because Rachel’s cupcakes take these traditional treats to a whole new mouthwatering level with flavours like double chocolate, apple and cinnamon, creamy carrot with walnuts, and luscious lemon, as well as cocktail cupcakes and bespoke wedding tower creations.
10. Best for green beer
How can the brown stuff be green? Find out at Purity Brewing Company, Great Alne, where premium quality beer is made using environmentally friendly methods. Tour the state-of-the-art 20-barrel plant, view the wetland water treatment system, and discover which lucky farm animals get to feast on spent grain from the brewing process. Then sample easy-drinking Pure Gold or zesty Mad Goose – named after the geese that patrol the brewery.
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