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Lunch on The Levels

Set in classic Somerset countryside, the Duck at Burtle offers the perfect walk/drink/eat combo

Saw this beautiful swan just over the road from the The Duck at Burtle when I went there for lunch a couple of weeks ago – wonder whether she’s hatched her eggs yet? The award-winning pub’s set on the Somerset Levels so it’s surrounded by flat fields criss-crossed with waterways and teaming with interesting wildlife. The wetland reserves of Catcott, Avalon Marshes, Ham Wall and more, are all within the immediate vicinity – all adding up to the perfect walk/drink/eat combo.

The Duck’s in the old station buildings on Station Road in the village of Burtle (don’t plan to catch a train here –  the last one left in 1966). It’s got a little bit of a ranch feel in this pic, don’t you think? Cue the theme tune from Dallas….

Inside, there’s a bar where you can eat with your dog, a light airy dining room (where you can’t) and a snug  – as well as tables in the garden for sunny days.

Weeping willow (we’re in a watery part of the county) and ducks in the garden

Lots of people were in for lunch when we were there which created a buzzy but not intrusive atmosphere. Tables are space widely apart so you can catch up on gossip, without anyone else earwigging, if you want.

Onto the food: a choice of five starters: four veggie and one seafood. This is the ultra crispy salt and peppered squid and blanch bait with cool chargrilled lemons to squeeze and garlic aoili to dip. Kerrrunch!

The goat’s cheese and red onion marmalade bruschetta with a little rockety salad was delicious. Could almost be a light lunch on its own. Setting looks a bit weird as I was leaning over to my friend’s side of the table to get the pic.

There’s a good choice of 12 mains, mostly classic pub grub with a twist. Given the name of the place, you’d expect a bit of duck – and there is: duck burger, duck leg on a bean cassoulet, fried duck breast – even the egg that comes with the honey glazed ham, egg and chips is a duck egg. This is the deliciously (almost too huge) plate of pan fried duck breast with honey roasted sweet potato, veg and a black cherry sauce.

Also on offer, scampi, steaks, Butcombe Beer battered fish and chips,  cajun chicken, halloumi on salad.  I said it was mostly classic pub grub but my king prawn, crayfish tail and chorizo on linguini in a sweet chilli, white wine, lime and coriander sauce certainly wasn’t. And it was  stuffed with seafood – not just pasta with a few bits of seafood chucked in, as you get in some places.

Seven cakey, puddeny desserts plus Granny Gothard’s ice creams and sorbets and a local cheeseboard.  Hmmmm…… My friend went for the warm sticky toffee pudding with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top and a pool of toffee sauce below. Yep, it was pretty good.

Moist, sweet carrot cake and cream for me…

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: anyone really – families, friends, ladies who lunch. Oodles of room for groups. Easy peasy for wheelchairs and pushchairs. You can bring your dog.

Not for: Not many hidey holes for loved up couples. There were three fishy mains but only one for veggies.

£££: Very good value, especially given the size of the portions (I’m a glutton): starters £4.95-5.50; mains £9.95- 19.95; desserts £4.50-5.50.

Open every day from noon till late, family, dog and wheelchair-friendly. Amazingly, given the location, wifi (which is free).  Pop along on Father’s Day (Sunday 18 June, in case you’ve forgotten) and all Dads will get a free pint!

The Duck at Burtle, Station Road, Burtle, TA7 8NU Tel. 01278 238 282 theduckatburtle.co.uk

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Somerset