Tucked away in a peaceful corner of Oxfordshire, The Lord Nelson pub is a mix of rustic charm and classical grandeur.
Like its namesake, the pub harks back to the 18th century, and served as the village pub for Brightwell Baldwin until 1905.
Nowadays, the Lord Nelson is a thriving local hub, with food and drink available throughout the day in the cosy interior or large beer garden.
It is run by Roger and Carole Shippey, who bought the pub 13 years ago after 16 years in charge of the Highwayman in Checkendon. Having been urged to try the pub’s famous roast dinner, I visited the Lord Nelson on a Sunday afternoon and was promptly seated on a spacious table near the bar, despite turning up 15 minutes early for my booking.
Our drink orders were taken very quickly as I ordered a pint of Rebellion IPA and my partner an orange juice.
The wine list was also well stocked, be it red, white, sparkling or even dessert wine that tickles your fancy.
After poring through the menu, as well as the long list of daily specials, I opted to start with a duck salad with hoisin and plum sauce, while my partner chose sautéed garlic mushrooms.
Both arrived in generously-sized portions, the mushrooms especially could have constituted a full meal in some restaurants.
The duck was shredded and crispy, and went well with the fresh salad, although on a personal note I found the cherry tomatoes a little too sharp for the rest of the plate.
The hoisin and plum sauce was also a touch sweet for my taste and became a bit sickly by the end of the meal.My partner’s mushrooms went down well, the simple dish not over complicated by too many flavours.
After a hearty recommendation from our waitress, I ordered roast beef for my main course, which came complete with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, cauliflower cheese and vegetables.
My partner chose half a roast duck with kumquat sauce, potatoes and vegetables.The main courses arrived having given us just enough time to digest the starters and were in similarly sizeable helpings.
The beef was cooked to perfection, sliced thin with a soft pink centre, while the vegetables were crunchy and the potatoes crispy. The cauliflower cheese was excellent, though I was left wanting more after I had wolfed down the single small floret.
The Yorkshire pudding was also well cooked, the batter had puffed up well and was not too salty or too bland. My partner’s duck was well-received, crispy on the outside and tender within, while the cumquat sauce, which she had been wary of while ordering, was delicious.
If anything the meal was too filling and after making her way through most of the duck she was forced to admit defeat with meat left on the plate.
We ordered coffees before the bill and were treated to two small chocolate brownies with our drinks, which were the perfect size for dessert after two very filling courses.
Throughout the meal the bar and restaurant area had been busy, with the constant buzz of conversation from locals and guests alike.
The pub clearly has a committed band of regulars who are happy to sit at the bar and chat to the staff, giving the Lord Nelson a welcoming ambience.
The staff were always attentive and helpful, even providing us with the number of a taxi to get home after the meal.
The Shippeys have cultivated a thriving pub at the Lord Nelson. The food is not cheap but the quality justifies the prices and I would be delighted to return, especially the next time I’m in search of a top-notch Sunday roast.