Monica Shaw

Review: The Tunnel House Inn

food magazine - August 01, 2012

All too often, pubs fall into one of two camps: either they have a great atmosphere but terrible food, or they've got amazing food but feel more like a restaurant than a pub. The Tunnel House, however, strikes a balance, making it a breath of fresh air in the Cotswolds.

Unlike many pubs in this area, The Tunnel House has not tried to posh itself up with fancy gastronomy or "sensitive" refurbishment. Instead we find an honest pub that's stayed true to its roots. Built in the 1780's on the Thames and Severn Canal to provide food and housing to workers on the Sapperton canal tunnel, it now offers a similar experience to visitors, locals, walkers and even campers who you'll find pitched along nearby Hailey Wood.

The food at The Tunnel House may not be fancy, but it's real and surprisingly diverse for a pub of this kind. You'll find well-prepared classics like steak, fish and chips, and the best wild boar burger around. But it's worth branching out to their less ordinary dishes, such as the baked smoked haddock stuffed with spinach and pine nuts, served with lemony thyme risotto. The desserts offer the same kind of familiar comfort as the mains. Their Eton mess is ultimate refreshment on a warm summer's day. In the winter, go for their sticky toffee pudding or apple crumble.

To get to The Tunnel House, you can either drive down a long unpaved track to get to its canal-side location, or take a walk along the towpath and approach the pub on foot. However you get to The Tunnel House, you'll find a true hidden gem, and a pleasant change from the far-too-sensitively restored country pubs in the area.

The Tunnel House Inn and Barn Tarlton Road, Nr Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 6PW 01285770280.