With summer coming to a close it won’t be long before we’re cuddled up in front of a roaring pub fire, but until then, we’re determined to make the most of the balmy temperatures (yup, we’ve got our rose-tinted glasses firmly on).
Forget the high heels (shock horror!), the cotton napkins and, in many cases, the cutlery… here’s our guide to the best places for a rustic snack and a saunter in Bucks and Oxon. Think fabulous scenery, wholesome food and views you can drink in…
The Black Horse, Chekendon
They don’t make pubs like this these days – frills and froth-free, where it’s all about the warm welcome and the local ales. It’s worth calling ahead to check but if food is being served – if it is, it’ll be freshly made baguettes and chips if you’re lucky. The woodland location is magical and there are walks galore right out of the front door.
George and Dragon, Quaniton
Proper pub grub is increasingly hard to find in the south east these days, but after a long walk on an inclement day, it’s just the ticket. Lasagne? Shortcrust pie? Onion rings? Now you’re talking. The entertainment at the George and Dragon is just as patriotic as the name, with Morris dancing and a tractor day among recent highlights. There’s a cafe with cakes and coffee, and it’s cyclist friendly with a bike rack and pump to lend. There are also countless walking routes and the historic windmill is open on Sundays.
Isis Farmhouse, Iffley
There’s no car access to this bucolic spot by the river at Iffley Lock, so you’ll have to walk (it’s about 30 mins from Christchurch Meadow in the city centre), row or cycle. The garden is enormous – like, three acres enormous – and you can sit in the shade of its huge trees as you gaze across the river. Expect menu options like a pork pie, sausage roll and soup of the day, plus hearty salads and Ploughmans.
Bottle and Glass Inn, Binfield
OK, so we’ve nipped over the Berks border, but we’d willing do that for the burgers at The Bottle and Glass – trust us! The pub has gone all out on its outdoor offering with the rustic-fabulous Burger Barn serving beef from the much lauded English Farm near Henley, famous for its longhorn cattle. Also expect wings, dogs, dirty fries and a couple of fire pits, should the weather not be playing ball. There’s also the horsebox, which is Dobbin-free and instead offers cocktails, or coffee and cake in the day. Open Tues 5-11; Weds–Sat 12–11; Sun 12–8. Book ahead to secure a table.
Blue Tin, Ipsden
Muddy Awards 2021 finalists, this farm shop is in the gorgeous setting of ancient Oxfordshire woodland, just off the Chiltern Way. The shop itself is chocked full of goodies from veg and meat to bread and deli items from within a 25-mile radius and since lockdown, a cafe has been added with rustic seating around a huge homemade firepit. The sausage rolls and soup are top class and there’s cakes, coffee and cold drinks. Sit, enjoy and watch the bustle of farm life around you.
Worton Kitchen Garden, near Cassington
When you eat at Worton Kitchen Garden, just north-west of Oxford, the rustic location is accompanied by a small but not so basic menu. Options such as Griddled Octopus with Potato Salad or Pink Grapefruit and Pistachio Cake featured on the most recent menu, which is mostly stocked from the beautiful market garden. If you want something more simple, there are cakes and bread on sale at the bakery. Open Weds-Sun.
Peterley Manor Farm, Great Missenden
This is a foodie’s double whammy, as not only is the excellent Farm Shop at Peterley Manor Farm packed with gastro goodies, but the cafe is also rather special. Currently operating in a yurt under the name of the Wild Strawberry Cafe, plans are underway to unveil a much larger cafe this autumn. Expect imaginative, fresh and wholesome dishes using lots of the produce grown on site. Breakfast dishes like granola and eggs royale give the lunch menu a run for its money. Open Tues- Sat 8.30am-4pm, Sun 9am-3pm.
The Barn Cafe, Turville Heath
You’d be forgiven for missing this cafe – it still looks very much like an ancient farm barn. There’s even a procedure for how to book if you’re arriving on horseback. Most come on foot or by bike, though there are one or two parking spaces for those with mobility problems. Burgers are the highlight here (including veggie), although goulash is back on the menu, plus there’s ice cream and cake. Booking essential.
The Cheese Shed, Nettlebed
This Muddy Awards 2021 winner is a fab little spot with a growing army of fans. The seating, in the creamery farmyard, and in the shadow of the pretty village church, makes a perfect spot to rest your legs after a cycle, dog walk or stroll. The cheese toasties are worth the calories, and you’ll be torn between the kefir smoothies (trust us!) or coffee, then there’s the dilemma of whether to follow with milk flavoured ice cream in a cone or a cake… better plan that second visit…
Wendover Woods Cafe
There’s so much to do near Wendover Woods Cafe from the high adrenalin ropes course to the walking trails, that every generation is catered for – even, dare we say it – teens! The cafe is a winner with its simple menu of toasted sarnies, burgers and jackets – what’s not to love? Oh, and did we mention, the view?
The setting for Pierreponts, on the approach to the bridge across the Thames between Goring and Streatley is a little bit special – you’ve got miles of riverside paths in each direction as well as the delightful little pottering shops of Goring. It’s not quite as rustic as the others (think exquisite home-cooked tarts, stews, soups and dishes, plus cakes and coffee) but just about makes our list for its access to the river path. Open Weds-Sat 8:30am-4pm, Sun 8:30am-3pm.
Quince & Clover, Great Tew
Picture postcard Cotswold village location? Check. Gorgeous home-cooked soups and stews, and seasonal salads? Check. This is rustic goodness with a touch of gastro class. No toasted ciabattas here. Another Muddy Awards 2021 finalist and perfectly located for walks in The Great Tew Estate.
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