With their latest opening, Bel & The Dragon at The George, Joel Cadbury and Ollie Vigors have managed to create the sort of British pub with rooms that’s hard to find outside of American romantic comedies. Impossibly cosy and quaint, Bel & The Dragon is located in the historic Hampshire village of Odiham and is under an hour’s drive from London.
Housed within a Grade II listed building that dates back 1540, the Bel has 10 rooms, a lively pub that’s loved by locals and visitors alike and an excellent restaurant. Rooms are comfortable and tastefully decorated with thoughtful touches like the complimentary Sipsmith sloe gin left for each guest to enjoy. Single malt whisky and a Nespresso coffee machine are generously available for guests to help themselves to, depending on the time of day and their mood.
The restaurant menu showcases the best British produce and does so with imagination and flair. Thoughtful touches, such as the fact that house wine comes in magnums and diners are charged only for how much they drink, are sure to impress.
A starter of poached duck egg and avocado with bacon chutney and hollandaise was fun and flavourful, while the smoked duck and pork cheek terrine with shallot marmalade and sweetbreads was a masterclass in meaty deliciousness. The Bel’s Josper grill plays a starring role when it comes to mains and it was difficult to fault the marinated and chargrilled sirloin steak served with Béarnaise sauce and perfectly crisp fries.
I also loved the English veal bolognese with home-made parsley pappardelle, a clever twist on a traditional favourite. The mix of comforting dessert classics such as blackberry and apple crumble and apple tarte tatin would make it rude not to squeeze in pudding too.
Cosy, comfortable, welcoming and just an hour from London, Bel & The Dragon is the ideal weekend bolthole – although all that delicious food and drink may well make you want to stay quite a bit longer.
Bel & The Dragon at The George, 100 High Street, Odiham RG29 1LP, +44 (0)1256 702696