Ian Waller and his family enjoy Sunday lunch at an impressive and very family friendly country pub

There’s nothing to beat a really good Sunday lunch, apart from perhaps a really good Sunday lunch cooked by somebody else… Now add in a wonderful country pub location, excellent service and a decent pint on tap (that’ll be for me, not the children), and we were a very content family indeed.

Our pub of choice for our Sunday meal out was the Wheelwrights Arms in Monkton, just on the edge of Bath and right next door to Monkton Combe School. With its own car park, plenty of exterior seating and view over the Cotswold countryside, it makes a wonderful location for a summer’s evening drink. For our visit, however, the roaring open fire made a welcome from the grey skies and drizzly rain that accompanied our arrival.

Having booked ahead (to be recommended), we were seated in a neat little nook just off the main seating area, a perfect setting for a family meal. Right from our arrival, the staff couldn’t have been more welcoming and friendly, expertly fielding the myriad questions from our excitable youngest and even offering ideas for the dining tables games that were played while our meal was prepared.

The Sunday lunch menu goes for quality rather than quantity, with just four choices for the main courses – roast ruby beef striploin, slow-cooked lamb shoulder and nut roast, each served with Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, seasonal vegetable and gravy, plus fish stew with Rouille croutons. 

If you’re particularly hungry, there’s also a choice of starters of soup of the day, heritage tomato salad and smoked chicken caesar salad. However, having seen the size of the mains being served to our fellow diners, we decided to give the starters a miss.

With half-size portions available for smaller appetites, my nine year old and I both went for the lamb, while my wife, daughter and older son preferred the beef, all accompanied by drinks from the bar.

While our food was being prepared, we enjoyed a game of dice scrabble and just appreciated eating out together. The Wheelwright Arms is a charming, historic setting, combining the warmth of that open fire with stylish bare stone walls, rustic furniture and fittings, and an altogether cosy and comfortable ambience. A friend who lives nearby told us that it’s also a great starting point for any number of country walks, while the Two Tunnels cycle track passes just outside.

There’s also seven rooms and an apartment to book, which is certainly worth knowing if friends are visiting for the weekend.

Once our food turned up, the scrabble dice were put away and the quiet eating was a sure sign of very happy diners. And with good reason – the food was superb, beautifully cooked, perfect portions and with a little extra of the gorgeous gravy supplied to fully fill the fluffy Yorkshire puds. It was also good to learn that the food was locally sourced, with the meat from Devizes and the vegetables from Melksham.

Yes, I admit to doing the annoying dad thing and nicking a piece of my older son’s beef, just to see how good it was – and it was very good indeed. In fact, I know what I’ll be ordering next time…

Did we have room for the puddings? Of course we did – four chocolate and hazelnut brownies, please, plus a sticky toffee pudding (there was a cheese plate – very tempting – and a choice of homemade ice creams and sorbets). OK, the brownies were a bit too soft, but still rather delicious, while the clean plate that had once held a sticky toffee pudding told its own story.

All-in-all, this was an excellent family Sunday lunch out and to be highly recommended.