Review: The Litton

by Jess Carter

03 December 2018

Jessica Carter heads out to the Mendips for a lunch of epic proportions...

When Sally Billington took over this pub in March 2015, she knew she was going to have to go all in. Sat in a small village on the edge of the Mendips, it’s a huge space that simply can’t rely on locals alone if it wants to feel full and generate any kind of atmosphere. Not to mention, I imagine, money. In its former guise as old-school boozer The Kings Arms, this place changed hands a few times before eventually closing in 2014.

After being gutted it now shows lots of its ancient stone and original features, and old materials have been reused in new ways – an old elm beam is now the top of the bar, for instance. The Litton opened in spring 2017 as a destination pub, restaurant and hotel (if you like the clarity of pigeon holes, you might file it along with The Pig, perhaps, which isn’t far away), which pulls in punters from many of the surrounding areas, including Bath and Bristol (both a smidgen over 30 minutes away).

As part of the redesign, the former front door is now at the back, so for Google Maps-reliant travellers like me, you’ll likely be directed to the rear of the pub, and probably then find yourself gingerly pushing open an unmarked door (found amongst those of the exterior guest rooms), unsure as to whether you’ll be given the welcome of an intruder or patron. (Luckily, it was the latter. Phew.)

Warm, fresh bread arrived swiftly after we took our table – before the drinks, even. Which was ideal for me – my hangover might have been in its final stages, but my appetite was still raging. One pint of hair of the dog for me, a glass of the recommended white wine for M, and a second round of bread, and we were settled in for the long haul.

Red wine-poached pear (£6.50) is oft seen on a dessert menu at this time of year, but not so much among the starters. The fruit was made savoury by the pairing of salami, blue cheese and dukkah, and balanced with roasted grape and pomegranate molasses to create a really nice sweet-salty starter. Beginning my meal with fruit might not have been what my moaning belly had in mind, but it definitely hit the spot.

Opposite, M was making a mental note for his next lunch after the night before, while tucking into his ‘full English’ (£7.50), which turned out to be both English, with lots of meat and egg (and somewhat Mediterranean too, sitting as it did in a thick sea of gently spiced tomato, bacon and bean ragu), and ‘full’ – it was huge for a starter, easily a stand-alone brunch dish. A soft-centred, toast-coated sausage and black pudding Scotch egg was joined by brittle strips of crisp bacon as well as a few roasted mushrooms for a tasty, multitextured and satisfying (perhaps a little too satisfying?) dish.

For mains, the lemon and garlic roasted bone-in chicken breast (£15.50) had nicely coloured skin and juicy, pearly white flesh underneath. It sat among a generous and colourful heap of corn and courgette succotash, which injected a gentle spice as well as a mix of textures and sunny favour. On the top sat golden and crisp coated polenta chips. Finished off with a generous scattering of grated parmesan to season, it was a fun, bright and nicely thought out dish (and another very generous portion).

The tandoori monkfish (£18), meanwhile, saw two meaty, bright red monkfish tails accompanied by lentil dal, onion relish and a courgette pakora, the whole lot scattered with leafy greenery. The spices were high enough in the mix to remind you that they’re there, but not so much as to overwhelm the well-cooked fish. A confident, successful main, M concluded.

A white chocolate panna cotta (£6.50) was full of textures and tastes – hard and soft, sharp and smooth – so, although wholly unnecessary, was seen off all the same.

Would I make the 30-minute journey here and back for food again? Yes. But I’d even more happily roll upstairs to one of the guest rooms after a feed of such proportions...

The Litton, Litton, Near Wells BA3 4PW; 01761 241554