With character and history by the bucketload, The Refectory is exactly the kind of quintessentially British restaurant that you’d expect to stumble upon in picturesque Wiltshire.
Found at Grade-I listed The Old Bell Hotel, thought to be England’s oldest hotel, the dining room at The Refectory is a traditional and cosy space featuring rustic wooden flooring, candlesticks in gold embossed holders and studded powder-blue velvet chairs. While the interiors and setting may well be traditional, don’t think that you will be served a stuffy, old-fashioned meal here.
In fact, The Refectory’s menu sees the kitchen turn out a succession of modern British classics given a European twist, as well as making the most of local and seasonal produce to ensure dishes are of the highest quality. The Refectory is open from 7am, when you can enjoy a buffet of pastries, cereals and fresh juices, or instead opt for something direct from the kitchen – smoked salmon and scrambled eggs perhaps, or maybe American-style pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and berry compote.
Later in the day, the menu moves on to crowd-pleasing classic dishes, such as West Country crabcakes with a honey and chilli dressing or baked cod with a pea and lime crust. There is also the option to order something from the grill (think ribeye or sirloin steaks), while vegetarians aren’t left out either – they can order stuffed aubergine or curried chickpea and spinach.
To finish up, opt for classic puddings such as Bakewell tart with vanilla ice cream or choose traditional desserts with a novel twist, such as sticky banoffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and clotted cream. If you prefer liquid afters, The Refectory boasts a sizeable list of European wines, while classic cocktails are available from the bar.
A great value set lunch, Sunday roasts and afternoon tea all add to The Refectory’s appeal, while children and well-behaved dogs are welcome too (although note that four-legged friends are confined to the bar area).