Venue: The Butchers Social, 97 Stratford Road, Henley-in-Arden, B95 5AT
Choice: Lamb burger (£12) Chooser: Waitress; website
As the clocks go back this weekend your need for a country pub that justifies the journey is about to become acute. The Butchers Social comprises the sort of beamed bar you're hoping for, with a distinct dining room giving table service, whistles and bells. Expect clever takes on the conventional, which show the experience of chef owner Mike Bullard. The "prawn cocktail" (£8) actually consists of perfectly poached lobster with concentrations including avocado and Marie Rose, while the cumin and fennel pork belly lollipops (£7) come with equally intricate tastes of vindaloo, mango and mint. Well balanced, well conceived dishes. The overall winner of this happy battle was however the barbecued shoulder of lamb, served as one of those burgers that absolutely requires both knife and fork, with a moreishly sweet yet tangy beer and malt glaze, plus cooked heritage tomatoes and smoked almonds. Add in a sharp slaw to cut through some of the richness of the meat, and you have a plate of food that has flavour, texture and tongue-pleasing contrasts. Menu
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