Eats & Explores: The Howard Arms, Ilmington

Last month (June), hubby and I visited the north Cotswolds for part one of our ‘Babymoon’, and on our second night there we stayed at The Howard Arms. Even with the weather being less than ideal upon our visit, we were immediately charmed driving up to this quaint village gastro pub and B&B.

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The Howard Arms

We stayed in ‘The Village Room’, unusual in that it had windows on two sides of the room – giving us views onto the village green (including a beautiful chestnut tree) and also of the well tended gardens (pictured below).

 

Usually priced at Β£140 a night bed and breakfast based on two staying, ‘The Village Room’ was spacious, with a large comfy bed including a feature canopy and a sofa/lounging area within the room. There was an adequately sized bathroom containing a bath with a shower over it, the toiletries were by Templespa. A lovely finishing touch to our room were the decorative biscuits left in our room from Taste of the Country, a fab independent food retailer down the road in Shipston on Stour.

 

After checking in (and a much needed nap in the incredibly comfy bed – woohoo for the blackout curtains, oh the joys of pregnancy) we took a walk around the village and up to the church. We were limited on time as we needed to make our dinner reservation, but the immediate area was incredibly pretty and definitely worth exploring! (How many villages do you know that boast an actual fairy door?)

 

It had also been our intention to grab a drink in the main area of the pub prior to eating, but having had a nap and a walk we had to forfeit this too – which was a great shame as it even came complete with a roaring fire! Yes, the fire was lit in June… We really did pick a great time to go away! Unfortunately I missed getting a pic of the flames in action (I didn’t want to disturb those huddled around) but you can get the idea…

The ‘dining area’ at the Howard Arms is on a raised platform to the right of the front door as you enter, up a couple of steps and has windows that look out onto the village green. The menu is a mix of traditional pub food but with some fine dining style options using seasonal locally sourced ingredients thrown in for good measure.

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The Dinner Menu

Having discovered the night previous on our visit to The Bower House that Evesham asparagus was a local delicacy, this time it was Chris’ turn to sample the asparagus, as it came with Parma ham which unfortunately I’m not currently permitted (boo!).

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English asparagus wrapped in Parma ham

Chris informs me the asparagus was perfectly cooked, maintaining just enough bite (because nobody likes limp asparagus right?) and the salty parma ham with poached egg and Hollandaise proved as ever, a classic combination. The pastry nestled underneath wasn’t a particularly necessary addition, but a tasty treat that my ever hungry husband enjoyed.

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Lamb Kofta

I went for the spiced lamb kofta kebab to start, served with red pepper salsa, tzatziki and herb pitta bread. For me this was an absolute highlight, (with the fact I’m beginning to salivate as I type being testament to that fact..!) Being a bit of a fusspot I don’t generally like lamb so Chris was a little shocked by my choice, however I don’t mind it minced with lots of spices (as a teen I loved a ‘seekh kebab’ at the local Indian) and this was a superb example of that.

The kebab itself was delicious, the accompaniments tasted incredibly fresh and zingy, the pitta bread homemade. It was for me the perfect summer starter, and in all honesty if they did a bigger portion I’d have had it for lunch the next day too!! Planning my next trip back just so I can order it again. Yum!

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Local Ale Batted Haddock

For my main meal, I moved onto the local ale battered haddock, served with chips, peas and tartare sauce. An excellent sized portion of fish in a light crispy batter, my only disappointment with this was that it was served with fries rather than the promised chips – but that’s preference on my part, I’m just not a fries person! On the other hand, I am definitely a peas person, so I was very pleased to see there were plenty of peas!! The tartare sauce also tasted fresh/homemade… Can’t stand the long life stuff!!

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Half Pound Beef Sirloin

Chris decided to go for the steak, which came with a leafy salad, roasted vine tomato, mushroom, fries and peppercorn sauce. I didn’t try any but he polished off the lot pretty quickly (even the mushroom, which he’s not generally keen on) which is a good enough recommendation for me!

For puddings, we went for the Mississipi Mud Pie and Apple Tart. They were both very attractive and generous sized portions, but possibly more winter type puddings than summer? The apple tart was particularly dense, and more like apple cake in texture, which while delicious was just a little heavy.

The next morning we went down for breakfast to be greeted to a table full of goodies including fresh juice, pastries, homemade compotes and muesli, yoghurt and your usual cereals. In addition we were each able to select a cooked item from the menu.

Chris went for the Full English, while I had the Wye Valley smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. We may be husband and wife, agreeing on many things (love of food, primarily) but when it comes to scrambled eggs Chris likes his wet to the point of barely cooked where I like them dry – blame my Mum – and the kitchen were happy to oblige us both.

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Full English

You may also notice no black pudding there – Chris isn’t a fan so asked for this to be omitted.

My salmon and eggs were very tasty, and I was happy there was only one slice of toast hiding underneath as this is how I do it at home – give me all the protein! That said the buttered granary toast was delicious.

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Smoked Salmon & Scrambled Eggs

Verdict:

We really enjoyed our stay at The Howard Arms. We had a really warm welcome and our room was large and comfortable. I loved the country pub vibe combined with delicious food, and it was perfectly located not just for walks in the surrounding village but for exploring the north Cotswolds or Stratford upon Avon and Shakespeare country.

Disclosure:

Our visit to The Howard Arms was gifted, but this has not swayed or influenced this post in any way. No one at The Howard Arms has been able to view or approve this content prior to me publishing. I’ve trusted husband to help with a sanity/fact check, so if you spot any errors please let me know but also be aware it’s not just my fault 🀣

Where: The Howard Arms, Lower Green, Ilmington, CV36 4LT

As ever – thank you for reading!

Lizzie (with a little help from Christoff) xxx

P.s. since writing this our new addition has arrived, which delayed publication a little! So welcome to the world (and my blog πŸ˜†) Beatrice Jennifer Anne George πŸ˜πŸ’•πŸ‘ΆπŸ»

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