IF you are looking for a friendly village pub with good wines, cask ales, home-cooked, locally sourced food and a log fire, you really should try The Old Bear at Staverton.

My wife and I were looking for somewhere to go for a Sunday carvery, having enjoyed a lovely Christmas at home. The only problem at The Old Bear is that, as I belatedly found, their Sunday carvery is so popular that you have to book ahead to enjoy the experience!

I rang and booked a table, but when we arrived, found the restaurant was full for the carvery, but nevertheless we were offered a wide choice of roasts for Sunday lunch.

Despite having lived in the area for the past six years, I had only been to the pub once before, while my wife recalled having been there for a staff party.

Alastair and Jo Middleton have been at The Old Bear for the past six years and, in that time, have built an award-winning reputation, with three TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence for the past three years to show for their efforts.

I have to admit, they are thoroughly deserved; the food is well presented and cooked, and the menu has enough variety to suit most palates and tastes. All dishes are made using fresh, locally- sourced ingredients. On Sunday, the carvery has a choice of three meats.

My wife chose the creamy garlic mushrooms on toasted ciabatta to start (£6), while I plumped for the home-made soup, a spicy parsnip with a crusty roll (£5.50).

They were both beautifully presented, well cooked and extremely tasty, with the parsnip soup being spiced with a cumin and madras mix.

For the main course, my wife chose the roast pork, while I went for the roast beef (£13 each). They came with roast parsnips, Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes, with gravy and a selection of vegetables on the side, including broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and a creamy cabbage mixed with gammon offcuts.

They were both well-presented, cooked to perfection, and were thoroughly enjoyed. All food at The Old Bear is freshly prepared and cooked to order.

After a brief break, we ordered sweets at £6 each. I had a sticky toffee pudding with cream, while my wife opted for the apple crumble with custard.

Menus change, depending on whether you are dining out for lunch or dinner, or are going for the steak night on Tuesday. Children’s menus are also available.

The Old Bear is a lovely old pub with a great atmosphere, log fires and a nice, clean decor. Children, muddy boots and dogs are always welcome.

Mind the front door as you go through as it’s a bit low if you’re over 6ft tall. Service is relaxed and the staff are friendly and attentive.

The pub has two sittings for its Sunday carvery from 12.20-2pm and from 2-2.30pm and served 140 people last Sunday.

Our bill, with drinks, namely a pint of Bath Ales Gem (£3.50), a pint of blackcurrant and soda (£1.20) and a Americano coffee (£2.20), came to £56.60 and was good value for what proved to be an excellent Sunday lunch.

All in all, The Old Bear is well worth a visit but make sure you book a table at least a week ahead for the Sunday carvery in order to avoid disappointment.

John Baker