La Cloche at The Carpenters Arms by Michael R. Goss

Sometimes the best discoveries happen by chance…..
It was midday and we were travelling back from an overnight stay after a busy private dining gig in rural Berkshire. Bleary eyed and a little tired, the hunger pangs were beginning to bite.
My grandfather was buried nearby in St. Mary the Virgin churchyard in Mortimer. Although he passed away when I was only twelve, after he left the navy he became a chef and had worked in London hotels during the 1930s and again late in Berkshire during the ’60s. The least I could was visit and pay homage, so I made my way to the far corner of the small cemetery to his engraved, copper coloured gravestone and quietly thanked him for his gift of culinary genes.
A frantic google search soon after revealed there was a pub serving food about two miles away.
We followed the directions through to the Ascot suburb of Sunninghill until we found, nestling between houses in quiet back street, what appeared to be a quiet unassuming local pub, The Carpenters Arms. Inside the place was full and buzzing. We hadn’t booked but the waiter had managed to find us a table and present us with the menus.
Within a few minutes bread was on the table. So many meals have been ruined by the presentation of lacklustre, simply appalling, tasteless, cotton wool bread. However, these guys were French, the bread was baked in house and came with the most delightful tasting French butter. So good, we devoured the first basket before even ordering the food. Things were looking good.
The owner and the chef were from France so the menu was unashamedly and proudly French, packed with classic bistro dishes. I ordered Moules Marinere with frites while my dining partner ordered the cassoulet with Toulouse sausages. I requested my dishes in the best French I could muster, which was much appreciated with mild Gallic amusement by the patron who was serving us personally.
The wine list was extensive and tempting, sadly we were driving so this time it was just water. House wines are £20, along with a large selection of both old and new world wine to satisfy any pocket or palate.
  The mussels arrived plump, hot and steaming, generously garnished with lots of parsley. The sauce was packed with  shallots and a generous measure of white wine producing an exquisite mouth watering aroma. The chips were perfect, hot, crisp and free from oil.
Eagerly I mopped up the gorgeous juices with the spectacular bread until not a drop remained.
The second dish saw two plump sausages upon a bed of tomato sauce laden with haricot beans; a rich and unctuous sauce bursting with flavours and herbs of Provence. Each mouthful was a delight, if only we weren’t driving, perfection would have been pairing this dish with a delicious Rhone wine.
The menu may seem expensive at first glance, however they have some great set menus and deals at off-peak times, weekday set lunches at £13.95, £24.95 at weekends. It’s rare I’m impressed by a restaurant these days, but honestly, this is the best place I’ve been to for a long, long time.
La Cloche at The Carpenters
78 Upper Village Road,

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