Hankering after pan-fried trout/crispy pork belly/stick toffee pudding, washed down with some fabulous vintage from the perfectly selected wine list? Read on!
With the timing perfection of an expertly cooked fillet steak, along comes The Estrella Damm list of the country’s finest gastropubs, with two Bucks & Oxon gastros in the top 50 and a further five making the top 100.
So here they are, the Bucks and Oxon fab seven. We’ll race you to the table.
The Hand and Flowers, Marlow (No.10)
Dishes at Tom Kerridge’s two Michelin-starred pub The Hand and Flowers are a delight, with local provenance and originality high on the agenda. But the interiors are still unpretentious and there’s a relaxed vibe. Ideal for a special occasion especially the private dining room for up to nine (with mains at the £50 mark, this is definitely somewhere for a treat).
Try this: Loin of Cotswold Venison with Salt Baked Celeriac, Haunch & Red Wine Croustade, Game Faggot, Blue Cheese and Celeriac & Truffle Purée. £68.50
The Coach, Marlow (No. 13)
Tom Kerridge’s second Marlow site, The Coach is a sleek, modern bistro-style pub that was awarded its own Michelin star in 2017, which it has held on to since. It maintains a flexible, accessible approach to drop-in dining though it does allow tables to be booked on the day for lunch or dinner. Phone lines open at 9am so trigger fingers at the ready! The vibe in this small 40 cover restaurant is buzzy, the room open-plan, and with mains from £9.50, that’s a Michelin steal.
Try this: Salt Cod Scotch Egg with Red Pepper Purée and Ibérico Chorizo. £16.50
And the Bucks & Oxon gastropubs in the next Top 50…
The Greyhound, Beaconsfield (No.54)
Set in a 17th century former coaching inn in Old Beaconsfield (ie the pretty part), The Greyhound is a slick reimagining of what a local pub should and could be with an intent on quality across its menu that includes stilton Welsh rarebit crumpets, octopus terrine, Périgord truffle gnocchi and Banbury duck to name a few drool-worthy dishes. The gastropub was named ‘One to Watch’ in last year’s awards so it earns a well-deserved place on the guide – an award that can be displayed next to its 2021 Muddy Award!
The Nut Tree, Murcott (No. 58)
This pretty village pub has held its Michelin Star since 2008 thanks to a menu that balances British gastro pub classics with modern twists. Main courses on the pub’s sample menu include Blythburgh pork belly porchetta cauliflower, pear, Iberico chorizo.
The Kingham Plough (No. 76)
This pub-with-rooms offers innovative modern British dishes (lots of them woodfired) with Mediterranean influences from head chef, Jonny Pons. Dishes on the sample menu include woodfired giant tiger prawns, aged Hereford steak and woodfired aubergine with sun-dried pepper and kalamata
The Magdalen Arms, Iffley (No. 79)
Alongside hosting flea markets this pub serves cracking seasonal dishes with a twist that change daily, such as raclette and potato pie, roast Hake with puy lentil vinaigrette as well as sharing dishes for two such as pot roast pheasant, celeriac, chestnuts and smoked bacon.
The Mole & Chicken, Crendon (No. 96)
The food has had a shake-up under new chef Jan Hvizdos (ex Fat Duck group) at this cosy pub & restaurant with rooms that comes in as a newcomer this year. The menu includes pub favourites with finesse, stellar presentation and focus on seasonal, local produce inducing chicken liver parfait brulee, lemon crusted free range chicken breast and chargrilled cauliflower ‘steak’.
Fancy nipping over the border? Better make a reservation at one of these beauties…
The Beehive, White Waltham
The Loch & Tyne, Old Windsor
The Hind’s Head, Bray
The Baliwick Free House, Wick
The Miller of Mansfield, Reading
The Bell Inn, Langford
The Bricklayers Arms, Flaunden
The Cross, Kenliworth
The Greyhound on Test, Stockbridge
The Thomas Lord, Petersfield
The Wellington Arms, Baughurst
The Longs Arms, Bradford-on-Avon
The Castle Inn, Castle Coombe
The Potting Shed Pub, Malmesbury
The Bath Arms, Longleat