The Sheppey Inn, Godney
The tiny hamlet of Godney out on the Somerset Levels is just four miles outside Glastonbury but it feels like a different world: very remote, with expanses of peat moors crossed with bullrush-lined waterways, a few slightly ramshackle buildings and lots and lots – and lots – of sky. It’s where you’ll find a rather funky pub called The Sheppey.
It’s not prepossessing from the outside: a long, low grey building opposite some not very picturesque farm buildings…
But hang on in there, once you get inside, The Sheppey is a fab gastro pub with great food and an atmos that brings a little touch of Shoreditch into the heart of Somerset.
It’s a rangy sort of place, with a relaxed, cool atmosphere, which doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard.
Spaces flow into each other and rooms open out onto more rooms and spaces.
It’s decked out with eclectic furnishings, pictures, objets, fairy lights – and someone there loves a stuffed animal.
There’s a touch of urban art.
You can perch in the bar…
… hide away in a corner …
… lounge on a psychedelic 1960s sofa…
… sit outside in the courtyard overlooking the fields…
… or at a table on the decking area running alongside the River Sheppey (hence the name).
After checking out the bar’s selection of craft beers (local mainly but not exclusively), I found a seat in an airy light-filled space with an industrial feel (whitewashed bricks hung with huge original artworks, rough wooden floors, engineer chairs, huge abstract lights) and a vast window looking out onto the trees and fields and the river.
Loved the fact that the tables aren’t too close together. You can confide your secrets to your bestie without sharing the juicy details with your neighbours (course, you can’t hear their secrets either but you can’t have everything).
The menu’s Modern European with a very good selection of fish and veggie options. For example, out of eight starters, four were fish/shellfish (including The Sheppey fish stew of salmon, cod, haddock, mussels, shellfish bisque; duo of octopus (crispy and slow-cooked) with samphire; and a shellfish cocktail) and only one – a pheasant and black pudding terrine – was carnivores-only. Mains included guinea fowl stuffed with black pudding, steak with various sauces, poached sea bream with clams, squid ink and crispy noodles, a couple of vegetarian options – plus a selection of burgers in a brioche bun with triple cooked chips and Bourbon chutney. At lunch time they also serve sandwiches and salads.
My mussels in Sheppy’s cider, bacon, thyme and cream, were plump and delicious; the broth full of flavour.
I eschewed the steak and the guinea fowl in favour of the ultra healthy Woodstock salad. This was a mix of pickled and grated vegetables, quinoa, fresh apple, activated seeds (soaked and dried to enhance the nutrients), kambucha (a fermented tea high in antioxidents and probiotics) dressing. It was crunchy, mustardy, sweet and delicious – and virtuous-making.
I couldn’t manage a dessert but I enjoyed several vicariously: a blackberry frangipane tart with spiced marscapone; a chocolate and Kalhua cheesecake with mocha ice-cream and a yummy looking banana marshmallow with banana mousse and gingerbread crumb. Next time perhaps.
Children are welcome. There’s no specific menu but there’s lots to tempt. Sundays are a good time to come with the kids as they do a selection of roasts. There are plenty of highchairs if you need them. Nothing to complain about on the service front: staff are exceptionally friendly, helpful and efficient and just on the right side of trendy (i.e. there are some fashionably hipsterish beards) so you feel you’ve got your finger at least a little bit on the pulse. There’s free wifi but why keep it a secret? You have to ask for the code.
This place is a real find, a place to come for a coffee, drink or a fantastic meal with eclectic surroundings and a laid-back soundtrack (Ray Charles, The Kinks, James Brown, Toots & the Maytals and Gomez when I was there). The Sheppey is also renowned for its live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Like the rest of the place, it’s a bit random; sometimes bands are advertised, sometimes you enjoy whoever’s just rocked up to play. There’s lots of outdoorsy stuff close by so you can work up an appetite: there are well-signposted walks roundabout and you’re a stone’s throw away from the Avalon Marshes where during the winter months you can witness the surreal starling murmurations.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Weekend lunch with the family; drinks, dinner or lunch anytime with groups of friends or significant other (you can hideaway in a corner); boozy nights out with rocking good bands.
Not for: Families with children who want to run around and play, though children are welome All the outside space is set with tables and chairs and there’s not a blade of grass to seen (except in the fields on the other side of the river). Diners who expect fine linen and cut glass: there are napkins (but they’re paper) and condiments come in their bottles.
£££: Cheap to moderate. You can get a sandwich and veggie crisps for £5.50, soup and starters from £4.75 to £7.75, mains from £8.95 to £19.95 and desserts between £5 and £6. At weekends you have to book.