FOR a special wedding anniversary present, I decided to treat my wife Helena to lunch at arguably Worcestershire’s most famous pub.

The Fleece Inn at Bretforton, near Evesham, is steeped in history and visitors flock from far and wide to admire a building that dates back six centuries and sample its ales and fare.

The Fleece, now owned by the National Trust, has its own men’s morris and ladies’ clog dancing teams and also holds an annual auction of locally grown asparagus to raise funds for the Bretforton Silver Band, the last of its type in the county.

When we arrived at the Fleece, the clouds were threatening but the welcome we received was more friendly as we were shown to our table in a quaint part of the pub. My seat was a rocking chair.

For starters we shared an antipasti platter (£9.50) which included salami, roasted aubergine and peppers, Parma ham, mozzarella cheese, hot ciabatta and marinated olives. We enjoyed this immensely and when we asked for a side order of garlic bread, primarily for our one-year-old son, I couldn’t resist a taste and I can confirm that it was some of the best I’ve ever had.

It was not easy to choose a main as several options grabbed my attention, but I decided on something a little different – the crab, pea and chilli linguine in a white wine and saffron sauce with garlic ciabatta (£11.50). The pasta was perfectly cooked and the sauce was to die for. The portion was more than generous and even I, with my appetite, couldn’t finish it.

Helena opted for a Fleece favourite, the beerbattered haddock served with chips and salad (£9.50).

Again, the portion of fish was large, to put it mildly, and she was beginning to wish wedding anniversaries came around more often.

Our visit to the Fleece came shortly after the end of the gras season so we were not able to sample any asparagus dishes. But when I saw the dessert board, one option jumped out at me – locally made asparagus ice cream.

I decided to order just one scoop (£1.70), which as it turned out was a very generous one. I can’t say I loved it, but I was able to eat a few mouthfuls and could certainly taste the asparagus.

Anyway, I can now tick it off in the 100 things I’ve done in my life (number 87 – eat asparagus ice cream).

Helena followed a rather more traditional path by ordering a portion of chocolate bread and butter pudding (£4.95). She enjoyed it but struggled to find the chocolate, apart from a little powdered chocolate on top.

We had a lovely meal at this gem of a pub and it’s not hard to understand why it is such a popular venue for diners and drinkers alike. The bill came to just under £50, including a couple of drinks.


Service: ***

Food: ****

Value for money ****

Ambience: *****