The Little Bell Boys on their favourite pubs near Soho Farmhouse

two men holding beers in aprons

We speak to the duo behind Oxfordshire’s The Bell pub – and our Little Bell pop-up at Soho Farmhouse – to find out where they eat on their rare days off

By Kate Lough   Tuesday 16 April, 2019

Tom Noest, 23 and Peter Creed, 31, are the cofounders of The Bell in Langford, the pretty 17th-century inn with a cult following in Oxfordshire. Their simple, honest approach has been translated into the Little Bell, their summer residency at Soho Farmhouse, where you can sample their signature nose-to-tail cooking and wood-fired dishes. Think kid goat scrumpet, bone marrow flatbread and devilled duck hearts on toast.

Here, we talk to the duo about their culinary inspirations, their star dishes and where they eat out on their time off.

How did you start working together?
Peter worked for the Lucky Onion, helping build it from one pub to four pubs and two hotels. We met (myself as a customer) at the original, the Wheatsheaf Inn in Northleach, and instantly hit it off. I started working on the bar and in the wine cellar before leaving to work in Cirencester as a chef. We stayed in touch thanks to our love of food and wine and often met up in London to eat and drink far too much. Although neither of us remember it all that well, the idea for The Bell was supposedly conceived at a St John dinner hosted by Peter at the Wheatsheaf. 
meat on mashed potato on a restaurant plate
inside restaurant dining room with rustic furniture
What’s the vibe at The Bell?
It’s very laid-back – dark lighting, wonky picture frames, big fires. When people walk in there’s always a good energy to the place – a few people often fill the space with noise and fun. We try to make it as ‘pubby’ as possible whilst putting on a decent food and wine offering.

How is it different from other country pubs?
We put in a wood-fired oven and we’re one of the few local pubs that do it – pizzas, whole bits of fish and big cuts of meat do very well in there. Throughout the game season, we used as much as we could, and it was very popular.

Where do you get inspiration for your menu? 
We’re big fans of The River Café, Ducksoup, St John, The French House, Barrafina and Noble Rot. So I’d say Italian, British, French and Spanish styles are all very much prevalent at the pub. 
In your opinion, what makes for a good restaurant? 
Always non-stuffy with simple food cooked well, a good wine list to get stuck in, easy-going service and a comfortable space to sit in.
 
What would you recommend ordering from your Little Bell pop-up at Soho Farmhouse? 
Our favourite dish is currently the grilled squid with ’nduja. Spicy, sausagey and fishey sweetness.

 

Tom and Peter's favourite pubs in the area 

a restaurant table in front of framed drawings of fish
an outside view of a countryside pub
The Woolpack Slad, Stroud
We went for the first time just recently and both fell in love. The pub is in a beautiful part of Gloucestershire set in one of the many valleys around Stroud with amazing views all around. The pub itself is quite small and has not been touched for a fair few years and has clearly seen some life. Wallpaper coming off the walls, old banquets and knackered furniture all add to the charm of a traditional boozy pub. The menu, however, is incredible: a perfect mix of pub grub with some more modern, simple dishes and plenty of local beers to help you sink back a bit further into your seat. 


The Magdalen Arms, Oxford 
We’ve both been a number of times to ‘The Maggy’, which is related to The Anchor & Hope in Lambeth. It’s a big old pub on the Iffley Road where you’ll always find a few boozers at the bar and a great restaurant at the back with a view into the kitchen. They also have a big St John influence present with plenty of offal, different cuts of meat to share and a superb wine list. It’s all very indulgent. 


The King’s Head Inn, Bledington
The King’s Head Inn is our most frequent haunt and the best pub for a pint or five. A good classic British pub in a beautiful village, it has a low-lit bar with a few stools, a big fire roaring at all times, a great choice of beers on and a familiar face behind the bar. There’s a great set of locals propping up the bar – always with a funny story. It’s normally full, so it has a vibrant warmth to it. 

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