FEELING under the weather this week, this slightly damp Pub Spy returned to Stroud for a visit to The Retreat .

This place has been serving the town’s residents their drinks since 1768 in one form or another and while it’s safe to say the faces have changed many times over the years, that welcoming feeling which draws people to their ‘local’ has clearly endured.

Tucked away off the High Street, in Church Street, this intriguing pub catches your eye with a style that reminded me of the most recent film adaptation of The Great Gatsby.

The decor is striking – red with dark furniture isn’t a common sight – but it definitely gives the place a unique look, this is paired with a Hollywood-style name in lights above the bar, which I loved.

They say that red encourages an appetite, and if the colour doesn’t work, seeing the food leave the kitchen and smelling the fantastic aromas certainly will.

Once you have appreciated the history and sat down to enjoy your food, you’ll realise what keeps bringing people here.

Oh, and a quick mention of the staff who are friendly and well prepared, providing fast service.

You know those days, where you just really want something pasta-ry (yes, Pub Spy now makes up words too)? Well, I often have these days and luckily The Retreat had just what I was looking for.

I ordered the pasta with home-made pesto which is served with bread and no-ordinary salad on the side for just £8 – what a bargain! The freshness of the pesto really shines through – it was so delicious that I wanted to ask for the recipe.

The way the garlic, basil and cheese blended together beautifully, along with the slight crunch of the pine nuts, made for one extremely happy Pub Spy.

To accompany my meal, I opted for a glass of the Chilean Pacifico Sur Sauvignon blanc (£6.80 for 250ml) which was dry and pleasing, and then a perfect latte (£2.50).

Anyone who has been to The Retreat on a Friday or Saturday night knows that the place gets busy and is full of atmosphere, but on a quiet weekday the bar is just as appealing for its pleasant serenity – a win-win.

Leaving The Retreat, I was surprised by just how impressed I was with the quality of the food and service. I cannot recommend the place enough.

If you’re not from Stroud, and even if you are, I can’t think of many better ways to spend a Saturday than exploring the farmers’ market before heading to The Retreat for lunch – and then staying all the way to the evening.