Never dull in the Zambuni PR office, Rowena and myself were off on a road trip to The Woolpack Inn at Totford, in the Candovers, at the behest of landlord, Andrew Cooper, known as Megs to all who know him. Situated slap bang in the heart of Hampshire shooting country, Megs wanted to discuss the opportunity of letting the country sports world know about his perfectly formed gem in this idyllic valley. It wasn’t a day for the 4×4 so as on a girlie road trip we opted for the seriously fast soft top option of the Audi A5 S4. After nipping to the office in Mayfair briefly, we fled to the hills, soft top down with a soundtrack of Daft Punk and classic Ibiza tunes. As we left the M3, we wiggled through astoundingly beautiful country lanes and various villages with Candover in their name. Eventually a sign arose in front of us, ‘The Woolpack Inn’, and we pulled into a newly groomed car park beside a quintessential British pub. This was no ordinary pub, which became clear as soon as we walked through the door. The attention to detail was clear to see and, as we sat on one of the many terraces, they were just finishing building a rather spectacular pizza oven outside for Wood-fired Pizza Sunday. The menu was impressive and the head chef Ryan had obviously worked tirelessly to create a varied menu using locally sourced food and game wherever possible. The starters and mains are changed every month although a selection of British pub classics remain on the menu throughout the year and each day there are a selection of daily specials available. We chose a Caesar Salad, muscles in a shallot and white wine sauce and the sea bass served on a bed of crushed potatoes and olives, all of which were sublime.
Megs had a very impressive pub pedigree, having helped manage iconic London pubs such as The Havelock Arms in Brook Green, The Queens in Primrose Hill and a complete turnaround of The Tim Bobbin in Clapham Old Town. He had decided to leave the smoke a couple of years back and had been approached to run The Woolpack Inn while working at The Queens in Selbourne. It was an opportunity not to be missed and a year later he is still loving the challenge.
The seven bedrooms were simply and beautifully done. One bedroom was actually two rooms so they could accommodate a shooting party of eight and each room had a hidden cupboard containing various essentials such as a gun cabinet and a dog blanket. The rooms were fairly booked out for weekend shooting parties over the season due to the pubs location, nestled between so many top-notch shooting estates.
The atmosphere, even at lunchtime on a weekday, was warm and friendly with a wide cross section of the local community enjoying the summer sun.
As much as I love Mayfair, I have to say that it wouldn’t take much of an excuse for us to head to The Woolpack Inn again soon for a slice of the quintessential British experience that a pub of this quality has to offer.