I hate Services, so we tend to try and take a detour off the motorway and find a more pleasant stop for a rest-bite. Sometimes they’ve worked out, and sometimes they haven’t, but even if they haven’t, they have still tended to be better than the dreaded services.
I am pleased to say, we have found a winner, just off the M4 at junction 14. Just a five minute drive off the motorway (so a ten minute round trip diversion) brings you to the very cosy and hospitable Five Bells family friendly pub serving up delicious food. For us it’s an ideal stop on the way back from visiting family or attractions London way like Legoland and Chessington.
We stopped here on a Friday evening at about 8 o’clock, tired and famished in the hope of a table. The pub had plenty of atmosphere, but wasn’t jam packed, and so luckily we were able to get a table without having booked ahead.
The oldy worldy pub had a roaring fire on the go, keeping us snug, as the temperatures had dropped considerably and it was bitterly cold. We were lucky to have a table right by the fire.
It was a shame we were driving, as the pub had a vast choice of real ales on offer which my husband would have liked to have sampled! It’s been a CAMRA finalist for ales and has won the CAMRA award for Cider. I had a glass of the house red which was very good for a house wine and went down very nicely.
The menu had a good choice of traditional pub fare on offer. I chose the Beef pie, while my husband opted for the burger.
The shortcrust fully enclosed pie was gorgeous, melting in the mouth pastry with a rich oozing gravy and tender pieces of beef. The chips were delicious, proper home cooked chips. They were sprinkled with pepper rather than salt, which might not have been to everyones taste, but we enjoyed them. The side of vegetables were cooked well, still al dente and just right.
My husband couldn’t fault his burger, juicy beef, not overcooked, and tasty melted cheese with a slice of bacon on top.
The boys had the childrens pepperoni pizza and fish and chips. The pizza was freshly cooked in their pizza oven with a nice crispy hand made base and had oodles of cheese, which suited my eldest, but he could have done with a few more pieces of pepperoni (he loves his pepperoni!).
The fish and chips portion was very generous for a childs portion, so much so, that the usual greedy guts himself couldn’t even finish it!
My very tired 18 month old was given a spare plate and tucked into bits of everyones, but she seemed to like the pastry of my pie the best which was a little disappointing for me as I had to share it!
The service throughout was friendly and attentitive, but also relaxed so we didn’t feel rushed.
We will certainly be calling in here again if we are journeying up the M4. Definitely worth a visit if like us you hate the dreaded services stop! I’m just not sure I should have let you into our secret find!
Family Friendly Rating: ****
High Chairs – Yes
Baby Changing –No
Childrens Menu – Yes
Smaller Portions Available – Yes
Other Info: N/A
Address: Baydon Road, Wickham, west Berkshire, RG20 8HH
Tel: 01488 657300