Sunday nights can be graveyards for pubs and hotels. They need to come up with something special to entice the punters. Young Jack Greenall, a scion of the Greenall Whitley brewing family (his uncle is Lord Daresbury), has done just that.
Spend £100 in the Pheasant’s restaurant, including drinks, and your room comes free, breakfast included. So we grab the last berth on a damp and dreary Sunday night and, on arrival, our spirits soar.
Jack, 29, is on hand to welcome us. He’s understated, polite and works round the clock on this project, just off the M4 at Junction 14 near the Lambourn racing crowd.
Class act: The Pheasant Inn is run by Jack Greenall of the Greenall Whitley brewing family
He bought The Pheasant 18 months ago, and set about a revamp with the help of his interior designer friend, Flora Soames, of the Churchill tribe.
Yes, lots of posh connections, but as my wife points out pertinently, you can be given a leg-up, but you’ve still got to make the horse gallop. And gallop it does.
There are 11 tasteful rooms and, thank goodness, Jack shuns the normal nonsense about rates changing according to availability or the day of the week. Large doubles are £130, medium doubles £120, small doubles £110, all with breakfast included.
You know where you stand with the food, too, with another bright youngster, Andy Watts, in the kitchen.
It’s wonderfully fresh and honest — and the reason most tables are taken is because the majority of main courses are under £20, plus there are at least three wines around the £17 mark.
Because we need to get our bill up to £100, we opt for a £37 Saint Emilion Grand Cru, which the waiter suggests we should have decanted. Classy.
A convenient place: The Pheasant Inn sits just off the M4 at Junction 14, near Lambourn
The waiter is as sure-footed as The Pheasant itself, with a gravelly voice just like in Fiddler On The Roof. We ask him how he ended up in Berkshire.
‘Love,’ he says, although it didn’t last.
There’s a lot of love at The Pheasant. An American at the bar is telling Jack all about a young girlfriend he once had. It’s a painfully boring story, but Jack listens and nods his head at appropriate moments.
Heaven knows what time Jack got to bed, but he’s back serving breakfast at 7.30am. This place is the real deal and deserves to succeed.
The Pheasant Inn
Hungerford RG17 7AA
Tel: 01488 648284 thepheasant-inn.co.uk
Doubles from £110 B&B