THE DUCK AT BURTLE
Driving across the Levels this week I saw a sign to a village called Burtle and the name rang a bell. A quick Google (in a lay by, of course) revealed the reason why – it’s where you’ll find one of Somerset’s newest gastropubs. The Duck at Burtle only opened about 10 months ago but has already been noticed, making the finals in Best Gastropub and Best Newcomer in one of the county’s major awards. Now I’m always looking for an excuse to stop and fill my face, so I went to investigate…
The Duck really does feel in the middle of nowhere – it’s all large flat fields (some of them filled with swans) surrounded by drainage channels, with the romantically named South Drain ‘river’ just over the road – although you’re only about eight miles each way from Burnham-on-Sea and Glastonbury. Back in 1856 it was called the Railway Hotel and it’s on Station Road but railway enthusiasts won’t find any track or trains (I’m guessing Dr Beeching?) and after a time as The Tom Mogg Inn, it’s now been completely refurbed in its new incarnation.
A long bar curves round with bar stools, sofas and armchairs; with a restaurant area beyond and a room at the end that’s called the snug but it’s more like a smaller eating area rather than a traditional corner to hole up with a beer. Lots of pics of Ye Olde Somerset and some of its residents – two legged and four – are on the walls.
The restaurant area looks over a simple garden where you can eat out on wooden tables in warmer weather – and yes, there are some ducks. Next door, a huge function room has plenty of room to party, with a dias for a band, a skittle alley hidden under the carpet, a woodburner and a bar that I’m going to call ‘urban’ (but maybe I’ve been in the country too long?). Loved the old Tom Mogg pub sign on the wall.
Onto the food. The menu is fairly extensive, with a choice of five starters including salt and pepper squid with blanch bait (any idea?) and garlic aiolo, but I was in for a quickie lunch so it was straight to the mains. These are mainly aimed at carnivores, with eight of the 12 dishes being meaty (from slow-cooked pork to steak), two veggie (a beetroot, brie and walnut wellington and a squash risotto) and two fish (mussels and sea bass). It being The D at B and all, I decided on The Duck Burger, a beefburger topped with sliced duck, bacon and melted cheese, served with a very creamy coleslaw, large bucket of fries and salad. It was flipping enormous and fabulous, I have to say.
Desserts included creme brulee, mousse, various cakes and a cheese board (which didn’t specify which cheeses) and the local, and now international, Granny Gothards ice cream. I’m a sucker for cream, which came with a slab of coffee cake – more buttercream icing though please!
The staff were friendly and efficient, it’s comfortable and relaxed – and my burger was top notch. I’ll be back to work my way through the rest of the menu.
Good for: Groups of friends and families wanting a relaxed get together; I’d imagine weekends are very popular, especially if you combine with a walk (the Westhay Moor and Huntspill Nature Reserves are close by). Kids are welcome: for younger ones there’s a Little Ducks menu with the usual selection of kids’ food – goujons, pizza etc – and on Sundays there’s a smaller version of the adult mains, and there’s the garden to run around in (and they can taunt the ducks). The function room would be good for a huge birthday party or a wedding. There’s a massive car park so coming in a convoy isn’t a problem.
Not for: muddy boots – there’s a lot of carpet in the main bar; dogs are allowed in the snug and bar but not in the restaurant.
£££: Moderate. Starters £4.95-£5.50. Mains £12.95-£19.95 Desserts £4.95-£5.25; ice-cream 3 scoops £5.75. Little Ducks weekday menu £5.
Open from noon till 11 every day with food served between 12pm-3pm and 6pm and 9pm.
The Duck at Burtle, Station Rd, Burtle, Bridgwater TA7 8NU. Tel 01278 238282 theduckatburtle.co.uk