Nestled in the sleepy village of Letcombe Regis and dating back to the 18th century, this attractive looking gastropub is a popular and thriving concern. In the vicinity of the Uffington White Horse, the ambience here is relaxed and vibrant proving particularly welcoming on a chilly autumnal evening. Its large and rambling interior is cleverly designed making it feel rather intimate considering it can currently cater for over 50 diners.
The menu has some very tempting dishes on offer which were going to take some serious consideration so, as we contemplated our choices, it’s a welcome glass of Gin & Tonic for myself whilst my wife – and designated driver for the evening – enjoyed a refreshing appetiser, complete with a slice of fresh apple – a nice touch.
After much deliberation (and being sorely tempted by the Venison tartare) I started
with the twice-baked Leonard Stanley Gloucestershire cheddar soufflé. Simply presented, this was a light and fluffy offering sitting proudly atop of a bowl of smoked haddock chowder. There were lots of little potatoes and slices of leek accompanying the slivers of smoked fish, which made for a tasty and hearty starter with none of the flavours fighting for attention. Beautifully balanced. My wife’s choice, heritage beetroot salad, which was partnered with walnuts, oranges, pickled chicory and pearl barley, was neatly presented. A plate full of autumnal colours. The pickled chicory added a tang to the taste buds whilst the walnuts added a crunch to the smooth textures of the fresh-tasting beets. A clean plate speaks volumes, and there were definitely no complaints from the other side of the table.
I must say, I was particularly impressed with the extensive wine list here. I chose a glass of red from their ‘wine of the moment’ selection. Biscardo Neropasso Rosso, a smooth and strong wine from Italy, with notes of cherry. I really enjoyed this, so much so I might have even had a second glass! After a suitable pause in the proceedings, (the pace of our evening was quite leisurely and relaxed throughout) it was time for the main courses.
Alongside the more extravagant sounding dishes are a selection of ‘pub classics’ (steak, burgers, fish & chips etc) which seemed particularly popular with families with younger diners. I couldn't resist the ale braised beef cheek served with a garlic and thyme mash, pickled Roscoff, onion and kale. This was delicious and so tender the meat literally just fell apart, in what I can only describe as a real ‘winter warmer’. The vibrant green streak of pea puree across the plate added a splash of colour and a sweetness to the palate. My only niggle was it could have all been a touch hotter. And, for my wife, Roasted cod loin with smoked herring caviar and mussels served with heritage potatoes, pancetta, baby leeks and white onion cream and garnished with a scattering of tiny wispers of crispy potatoes. The fleshy flakey fish was cooked to perfection with the buttery creamy sauce pulling all the elements of this tasty dish together harmoniously.
Finally, for my better half, the Autumn apple mille-feuille, served with an apple sorbet and, for me, my sweet tooth was more than catered for by the decadent sounding Chocolate and hazelnut delice, served with salted caramel ice cream and honeycomb. Both desserts looked really great. I can only describe the delice as a chocoholics dream. It was rich, smooth and satisfying, with the morsels of honeycomb adding a light crunch to the velvety textures.The mille-feuille was equally yummy, and a lighter and fresher finale. With delicate layers of flaky, buttery pastry neatly stacked with little balls of sorbet and cream, neither dessert would have looked out of place on Masterchef!
Owners, Martyn and Catriona, who took over the establishment five years ago, should feel justly proud of what they have achieved here. With circular walks arranged from the doorstep and comfy beds to boot, you could even stay the night in one of their eight en-suite rooms. A great place for a weekend retreat.
Starters: £6.50 - £8.50 Mains: £15.00 - £24.50 Desserts: £6.60 - £9.50 House wine: £22