The Crab and Boar, Chieveley: classic country foodie pub (with hot tubs)

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If you are one of those people who love nothing more than to sit in a country pub in front of a roaring fire, working your way through the weekend papers while you also work your way through the selection of well-kept ales at the bar, then the Crab and Boar is the place for you.

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The Crab and Boar is a lovely country pub just across the fields from the M4 in Berkshire

Located in – well, the middle of nowhere really, being within sight (but not sound) of the M4 in Berkshire and a few miles from the nearest village, Chieveley – the Crab and Boar is a classic country pub; thatched roof, comfy sofas, good food, a massive beer garden, but with unexpected treats – such as hot tubs in most of the rooms.

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The pub is cosy, with low beams and a roaring fire and prides itself on excellent. locally-sourced food

When we stayed there the weather was a classically British wintery day – howling gales, pouring rain, grey skies – but that didn’t stop other guests spending the afternoon in their personal outdoor jacuzzis as the covering umbrellas flapped in the wind, while the barstaff were kept busy with room service deliveries of champagne and ice buckets (it has been called one of the most romantic pubs in the country).

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The bar wasn’t exactly packed on rainy Sunday afternoon – but that’s because most people were warming up in their hot tubs

Our room, on the upper floor of the bedroom block just next door to the pub, didn’t have a hot tub but given the weather, that was no hardship – we bagged the sofa next to the fire and didn’t move all afternoon except to get another drink at the bar.

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Our cosy spot by the fire

Built in the 1600s, the pub was originally known as the Blue Boar, the name apparently  due to Oliver Cromwell staying here one night in 1644 and leaving a statue of a wild boar behind. It’s not clear where it is now – although there is a stuffed boar’s head in the restaurant – but either way the story is now commemorated in the new name, the pub having until recently been a seafood restaurant called The Crab at Chieveley.

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Chips are also on the menu… but the bar snacks here are a cut above the usual fayre

Now part of the Epicurean Collection, the Crab and Boar might be a relaxing place to spend a weekend but it takes its food very seriously indeed. The bar snacks menu alone is far removed from the standard choice of crisps and peanuts,  offering instead oysters, prawns, boquerones and wild boar salami, but also some classic English comfort food dishes such as fish finger and roast beef sandwiches.

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The candle-lit restaurant was very inviting on a cold Sunday night

Dinner in the dark but cosy restaurant was a delight, even if we got off to a slightly rocky start by having been giving the wrong menu and therefore choosing dishes that weren’t available. Once we’d sorted that out we piled first into the hearty and warming lobster soup and then the rump and shoulder of lamb, beautifully pink and with cavello nero, artichoke and anchovy on the side.

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The food was delicuous and perfectly perpared

The desserts, from rhubarb and custard to plum souffle and chocolate cremosa, were tempting but the cheese board won me over, with some delicious local cheeses such as Barkham Blue and White Nancy goat’s cheese. There was a good selection of wines by the bottle and the glass and we retired upstairs to our room feeling very content.

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Our upstairs room – no hot tub but very cosy nonetheless
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The bathroom was spacious and clean – no shower though

The room itself was the perfect place to hide away on a wild and blustery night, with a cosy sheepskin run, warm blankets, wooden floor and decorated in a simple, almost Scandinavian style.

Breakfast the next day was very pleasant, from the friendly sign on the blackboard to the cheerful and efficient staff. There were cereals, cold meats, yoghurts and pastries for people to help themselves to, and hearty cooked breakfasts were also available.

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The pub’s simple, understated style is very appealing
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Full English at the Crab and Boar

There are several attractions nearby, such as the Newbury races, the real-life Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle and the pleasant town of Wantage. However the beauty of the Crab and Boar is that you don’t actually have to go anywhere. While on a sunny afternoon I’m sure the spacious beer garden will be the place to be, there was something rather delightful about spending a cold winter’s night here and I would highly recommend a visit (whether or not the hot tubs are available).

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Crab and Boar, Wantage Rd, Chieveley, Berkshire
01635 247550
info@crabandboar.com

Crab and Boar is part of the Epicurean Collection, a group of pubs chosen by the Epicurean Times to represent the best of British hospitality and British food

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Sarah Bridge

Sarah Bridge

Every review is personally researched and written by leisure expert Sarah Bridge who, when she is not writing about leisure for a national newspaper, spends her time seeking out the best leisure experiences, from city centre boutique hotels to country house estates, Michelin-starred dining to the newest openings.
Sarah Bridge
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