Lunch at The Quarrayman's Arms, Box, Wiltshire

Nestled in the hills of Box, just outside of Bath (20-minute drive), the Quarryman's Arms is a charming country pub with great food. Although it was bought by the Butcombe group of pubs a few years back, the pub has maintained its individuality and has even undergone recent refurbishment, lifting it into a modern space which retains the authenticity of its history as a local pub. While we didn’t see them, we hear that the pub’s four bedrooms have also had recent refurbishment and the team sounded very pleased with the improvement.

As soon as we pulled up outside, we were impressed by the view over the rolling green hills towards Colerne – what a spot for a pub! We were welcomed very warmly by our hosts, who’s friendly service around the pub gave a real cosy atmosphere to the place. Taking our seats at a table by the window, cosied up beside a warm radiator, we were able to continue to enjoy the beautiful view throughout our meal. Our visit to try the new menu fell on a weekday lunchtime and despite that, the pub had the gentle buzz of busyness, while remaining a calm setting.  

There were a variety of real ales to choose from but as we were driving, we settled on soft drinks. Later, after some further perusal of the menu we found that they actually have an impressive range of cocktails and a variety of mocktails too – definitely something for everyone.  

To start, we chose the rarebit and duck liver paté.

Butcombe Original rarebit, pear, pickled walnuts and hot mustard dressing 🍐 [£6]

The rarebit was really good, the cheesy sauce was rich and so savoury. All the components worked really well together – the pickled walnuts were soft in texture and the perfect zing to complement the cheese. Sweet slices of pear also did justice to that classic combination of fruit with cheese. The presentation was so pretty and it was altogether very delicate for a pub dish.

Duck liver paté, pickled red onions, sunflower seeded bread, dressed leaves 🦆 [£6.50]

The paté also went down very well. The different colours of the plate gave a great overall look and the paté was delicious. It was rich in flavour and smooth with an almost buttery texture. It might not be for someone who likes a coarser paté but we enjoyed it a lot – it was delicious spread across the slices of malty bread. The crispy onions were a nice touch too.

Onto mains and we went for some pub classics which did not disappoint. One of us had the pie and the other; gammon, egg and chips.

Quarrymans pie: steak and Butcombe Original, colcannon mash, buttered greens, gravy 🥧 [£12]

The pie was well-presented and came with an extra jug of gravy for dowsing that pastry and mash. Thick, buttery, melting pastry and rich steak in an ale sauce. A pie in a pub is as quintessentially British as it gets and it lived up to our expectations. The extra gravy was a nice addition, the mashed potato was smooth and well-seasoned and the greens were cooked well.

Dingley Dell gammon steak, St Ewe’s free-range eggs, chunky chips, piccalilli 🍳 [£12]

This was another generous, pub-sized portion. Golden yolk eggs sat on top a bed of fluffy, crispy chips. The gammon was like a super thick cut of smoky bacon and came from award-winning outdoor pork reared in Suffolk. The dish was finished with the sweet and tart flavours of the piccalilli. It was a classic pub dish that was done really well.

For dessert we shared the chocolate brownie. We were hoping it wouldn’t be too rich after a big meal and we were suitably impressed!

Dark chocolate brownie, honeycomb, salted caramel ice cream 🍫 [£6.50]

This was the nicest dessert brownie we had had for a while, it was warm and really light (a million miles from the dense slab you can sometimes be served!), with pockets of melted chocolate… It was lovely to have salted caramel rather than vanilla ice cream - vanilla along with a brownie can sometimes be a bit too sweet. 

The salted caramel ice cream was delicious and had just the right amount of salt to make the pudding not feel too rich. It was sourced from Taunton-based Granny Gothard's, who produce award-winning ice creams from organic milk. The whole menu has a focus on using local and top-quality suppliers, which we were really glad to see. The chunks of honeycomb added to the awesome presentation of the dessert, but they were a bit big to actually eat, although they were nice to nibble on!

🌟 Looking around the restaurant, we could see the effort that had been gone to in the refurbishment. Everything looked fresh without feeling like you’d walked into a chain pub. The décor still featured dark colours, but they were bold and clean – much improved, we’re sure, by the fact that they had stripped back old curtains and carpets, letting in tons of natural light (even on a grey November day). The care from the management also shines through - our host has been running the pub for 20 years and was really positive about this new phase for their establishment.

The pub is full of thoughtful touches, like the collection of beer mats lining the ceiling’s beams (a homage to the last fourteen years of guest ales that have passed through the pub), nods in the décor to the quarrying history of the village (who’s main industry was in mining Bath Stone - the renowned building material used in much of our city’s architecture), and a small snug off from the main bar, complete with a fireplace crafted by a local stonemason that is a 1/50th replica of the Box Railway Tunnel (The actual tunnel was built under the direction of Brunel, the engineer responsible for the likes of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. When the Box Tunnel was completed in 1841, it was the longest railway tunnel in the world! Ok history lesson over...!)

We concluded that the Quarryman's Arms would be a great place to bring family for a pub lunch in the Bath/Wiltshire countryside. With a beer garden overlooking the view of the hills, a visit in Summer might also be a good idea. The food is really good value and of great quality. Other pubs might overcharge for this standard of food but the prices seemed very reasonable. The pub is perfectly placed for country walks – either as a destination for a pint after roaming the countryside, or, as we did, for a post-lunch amble to walk off all that food! (Note to selves: next time bring wellies!)

🤵🏻 Friendly staff 

🌿 Gluten-free, vegan & veggie options clearly marked on the menu 

💰 ££

Disclaimer: Press Invite - Complimentary food