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Thursday, 16 August 2018
THE Shoulder of Mutton in Playhatch is celebrating 17 successful years with proprietors Alan and Wendy Oxlade at the helm, writes Judith Toner.
As you enter the pub, the décor is all warmth and comfort, earthen colours, solid wooden tables, cushioned settles and an open fireplace. Dave and I received a warm welcome from Wendy and Corrina (the assistant manager).
The menu is a combination of rustic and modern cuisine with fresh ingredients locally sourced. Corrina guided us through the options and made some great recommendations.
Head chef Alan prepared a delicious starter named langostino bruschetta — with king prawns sautéed in garlic butter, which was mouth-watering and served hot on toasted rosemary and sea salt focaccia with cherry tomatoes and a rich pesto dressing — an excellent pairing.
Dave opted for Blue Coats — three pan-fried Portobello mushrooms topped with an eclectic mix of different cheeses — Barkham Blue, camembert and goat’s cheese coated with a pesto crust — that plays with your tastebuds. This superb starter was Dave’s favourite dish of the evening. The Thai taster, meanwhile, featured homemade chicken satay sticks with a coriander dressing that gave the dish a delicately fragrant twist.
For the main course, and guided by Corrina, I sampled for the first time the mutton pie. In the middle ages mutton pies were viewed as luxuriant, decadent English style food.
I must say the same can be said for today — the chunks of mutton in gravy, slow-cooked for five hours, produced a succulent, tender and richly warming flavour, with the pastry as light as a feather melting in your mouth. It was outstanding and ticked all the boxes.
For his main, Dave opted for the spicy burger — homemade rump steak burger with halloumi cheese, avocado slices, jalapeño peppers, tomato chilli and hummus. The flavours fused beautifully together, with the mild halloumi cheese contrasting with the fiery hint of the jalapeño peppers. On the side, the crispy chunky chips defeated us — they were enough for two people!
Regretfully we had to turn down dessert — but two which stood out and nearly tempted us were the flaming Baileys crème brûlée with almond biscuits and the apple and rum-soaked raisin crumble with hot custard, ice cream or cream.
The Shoulder of Mutton is a family-run gem with a great variety on the menus. A warm ambience and a relaxed team who can’t do enough to help.
Group party bookings are taken in the conservatory, personally catering for any occasions. Booking is recommended, especially for evenings and weekends.
Call 0118 947 3908 or visit www.theshoulderplayhatch.co.uk
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