Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Pie was a perfect ‘winter warmer’

Pie was a perfect ‘winter warmer’

WE arrived at the Shoulder of Mutton in Playhatch to a warm welcome from proprietors Wendy and Alan Oxlade, who have been at the pub for more than 19 years and are ingrained as part of the local community.

Their big achievement this year was the Shoulder of Mutton making it on to the list of top 10 favourite Berkshire pubs.

Alan, an experienced and skilled head chef, still has the same enthusiasm and passion for producing consistently high standards of food with flair and keeping up with ever changing food trends.

The menu choice is impressive, with something to suit everyone, vegetarians and vegans alike.

The pub was bustling with customers and we warmed ourselves in front of the roaring log fire and settled down to choose from the new menu.

With the help of our delightful server Abbie, my starter was the “two shells” crispy poached free-range egg, served on a bed of crabmeat salad, finished with the creamy sharpness of the homemade lemon and dill tartar.

My companion chose the classical or modern pantry soup and declared it was the best soup he had ever tasted, made from a multitude of ingredients which all worked beautifully together — spinach, mushrooms, celery, onion, stilton and cream — and was positively bursting with flavour.

I felt like I needed to try a true winter warmer from the new menu, in the form of one of the pub’s signature mutton dishes.

“Modern Mutton Shepherd’s Pie” featured braised cubes of mutton, slow roasted, flavoursome and succulent with a contrasting gluten-free tomato and pepper sauce.

The topping was velvet smooth, sweet potato mash with a sweet and spicy flavour, served with seasonal vegetables, lovely creamy leeks along with cauliflower and crunchy carrots. Paired with the Chilean Merlot (a good option), it slipped down a treat.

My companion opted for marinated pork shoulder, slow cooked until tender and juicy. The sweetness of the meat contrasted nicely with the oriental-inspired mandarin and coconut sauce, with fluffy mashed potatoes to absorb the delicate sauce.

Interestingly, both the main courses were gluten-free.

I managed my favourite dessert, crème brulee, found in a recipe book dating from 1691. Deliciously sweet, with a crunchy and smooth texture all at the same time, and homemade shortbread to dip.

The food at the Shoulder of Mutton is just outstanding; hearty, filling and full-flavoured with a homely style and the staff helpful and friendly.

The pub also caters for parties, with the beautiful conservatory available for hire and catering for all occasions, including weddings and wakes.

Christmas menus are now on the website, but hurry because there are only a couple of tables left for Christmas Day.

The pub is also looking for lunchtime weekday staff, so why not join their friendly team?

Book now on 0118 947 3908 to avoid disappointment.

For more information, visit www.shoulderplayhatch.co.uk

Judith Toner

Wine and Dine

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