We previously visited The Rising Sun in Backwell back in May 2021: a time when COVID restrictions meant that indoor public dining was banned and when the pub was still under the ownership of the OHH Pub Company. A year later the pub was sold to Butcombe – and a further year down the line we finally revisited. We’d decided it was the perfect place for a Saturday lunch out with my mum when she came to stay, thanks to its food-led offering, its play area for the small person, and a deliciously varied-looking menu – as well as having a decent-sized car park and being just ten minutes from our front door.
It felt strange turning up knowing that we’d eaten at the Rising Sun before – and yet, we’d never set foot inside. Butcombe has decorated the place beautifully: the bar directly ahead when you walk in, an area with sofas and a gorgeous fireplace to the left, leading through to a small dining room, and a further (larger) dining area to the right-hand side of the bar.
As you’d expect, Butcombe drinks are at the forefront of the drinks list with seven of the brewery’s beers on draught. There’s an impressive selection of cocktails and mocktails too, and I love the way their drinks list gives Butcombe’s recommendations if you’re finding it hard to choose.
It’s a pub that’s a great choice for family dining – in addition to the aforementioned play structure (which, in all honesty, could do with a little TLC), there’s a fenced-off garden, there are highchairs to use and there’s a dedicated kids’ menu. Each of the five main courses is priced between £7 and £8, including a Fruit Shoot, and there are both vegetarian and plant-based options included.
From lighter options such as the mushroom keema flatbread to more substantial dishes like ‘nduja rigatoni with burrata and a tomato and fennel sauce, the lunch menu at the Rising Sun is certainly varied and takes its inspiration from across the globe. Despite this, we somehow all ended up ordering traditional British dishes…
Across the table, there was much praise for the Butcombe Gold-battered haddock (£17.95 for a large portion): a good-sized fillet of fish with perfectly golden crispy batter. Liberally sprinkled with sea salt and served on a sea of beautiful thick-cut chips, it came with one pot of gherkin-laden tartare sauce and another of lightly minted crushed peas.
My mum and I do love a Ploughman’s, and from the description on the menu, we had a feeling that the Rising Sun version, coming in at £14.95, was going to be good. While I’d have preferred crusty bread over the toasted sourdough it came with, the rest was incredible. The soft yolk of the pickled egg was a novel touch, that and the pickled onions and cornichons all had a satisfying tang. Paired with a full-flavoured Stilton, a vintage Lye Cross Farm Cheddar that was so mature it was starting to crystallise and a fruit-laden chutney,
The Ploughman’s also came with two meaty additions: rolled-up slices of tender Wiltshire ham, plus a sausage roll – the star of the show with its rich and salty generously meaty filling, and a beautiful buttery flaky pastry exterior.
Between us we tried three desserts from the menu. First up, the dark chocolate and espresso brownie with cherry compote (£7.50): a super rich, nicely crusted gooey brownie with plenty of coffee flavour, and a wonderfully boozy-tasting Baileys ice cream.
My mum ordered the spiced sticky date pudding with gingerbread ice cream and rum butterscotch (£6.95) and proclaimed the gingerbread ice cream to be fantastic. The pudding itself was flavourful but surprisingly on the dry side, while, unlike the Baileys ice cream in the brownie dish, the rum butterscotch could have done with more booze.
At the request of the Biscoff-obsessed child, I ordered the Little Biscoff doughnuts with caramel sauce, vegan vanilla ice cream and caramelised biscuit crumbs (£6.50). The doughnuts themselves had a great flavour – reminiscent of fairground doughnuts – and while there was plenty of Biscoff in the middle, they were far too dense and overly doughy. The ice cream didn’t taste vegan at all, unlike some I’ve tried in the past, and the biscuit crumbs mixed with flaked almonds had a good crunchy texture and stopped the ice cream from sliding around in the bowl.
Butcombe pubs, in my experience, are always pretty decent when it comes to their food offering – if you haven’t already tried the brunch at The Whitmore Tap, you need to go! For that reason, I’m not surprised at the quality of our meals – including the provenance of their ingredients – at the Rising Sun in Backwell. It’s a beautiful place with great food, friendly service and a decent garden – which means we’ll no doubt be heading back for food and drinks with friends as the weather continues to get warmer.