WE arrived at the Shoulder of Mutton in Playhatch to a warm welcome from proprietors Wendy and Alan ... [more]
Tuesday, 12 November 2019
WHILE out on a long Sunday walk, there is nothing better than seeing a traditional English pub in sight and being able to take your wellingtons off at the door and head inside for some proper wholesome grub, writes Alice Whitehouse.
The Fox and Hounds in Christmas Common presents not just a leisurely stop-off but a dining experience that you will not forget.
Walking through the door, you are greeted with a warm, cosy atmosphere. The exposed wooden interiors, personal ornaments on the walls and low ceilings gave a real homely feel and a swift greeting from the manager, Reiner, made us feel incredibly welcome.
The pub was suited to all styles of dining. To the left of us was a quaint room with an open fire. This truly showed off how traditional the pub is, including the main bar, with the buzz of people drinking and chatting.
We were led through the reception room, passing the pub dog, George — a gorgeous labrador who I found difficult not to take home — and into an airy open-plan barn conversion dining room, the huge windows of which gave us a lovely view of the garden — perfect for al fresco dining in the summer, I would imagine.
The room held the same intimate feeling with low lighting presented in medieval glass lights, candles on tables and a gallery view of the kitchen — all of which added to the homely feel.
Once seated, we were served promptly and efficiently. The menu was far from your bog standard pub fare: the meals were traditional, yet reinvented with a twist.
We started with breaded Camembert, dressed leaves and redcurrant jelly together with lamb and coriander meatballs, spiced tomatoes and red union ragout, pitta bread, mint and cucumber yogurt. The Camembert was perfect and the redcurrant jelly complemented it flawlessly.
The meatballs presented a Lebanese-style cuisine perhaps surprising for a country pub but they were incredible and showed off the chef’s culinary range.
In addition we had a board of fresh bread sourced locally from Lawlor’s of Henley, which showed in its quality. For our main courses we had what is expected on a Sunday — roast dinners.
One roast chicken breast with sausage meat, sage and onion stuffing, wrapped in bacon and one roast leg of lamb and mint sauce, to be precise — both served with roast potatoes and a selection of vegetables.
The vegetables were again sourced locally and the meat from Vicars Game in Ashampstead. To be informed where the produce was from was refreshing and made the meal stand out.
The roasts could not be faulted — the meat was succulent and the components of the dish complemented each other well. No trimmings were missed. Though stuffed to the brim, there is somehow always room for pudding on these occasions and we were shown the dessert board.
The chocolate brownie with chocolate sauce and blackcurrant and clotted cream ice cream was true indulgence, while the Belgian waffle and salted caramel ice cream with toffee sauce was a traditional classic that lived up to expectations.
The Fox and Hounds was one of the most inviting pubs I have ever been to.
Reiner and his team have done a fantastic job of making the pub equipped for all types of dining — a home from home with exquisite food.
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