Monday, 16 May 2022

Pub’s summer lunch menu spoiled us for choice

Pub’s summer lunch menu spoiled us for choice

THE Maltsters Arms nestles at the heart of Rotherfield Greys next to the Norman church of St Nicholas with its famed Knollys Chapel.

The hamlet lies only a short distance from Henley, easily accessible on foot from Pack and Prime Lane, or alternatively by car.

The landlord Gary Clarke is what I’d term a Renaissance man. A member of the Musicians’ Union, he plays in a Cure tribute band called The Cureheads.

A former medical student at Leeds, he went on to study nouvelle cuisine in France under the guidance of Paul Bocuse.

We arrive at 1pm and sit down to study the summer lunch menu in earnest. There is a choice of 10 starters, from soup du jour (homemade minestrone) through to cuisses de grenouilles (frogs’ legs) and pâté aux cèpes.

A fine variety. We decide to head straight to the main courses, of which we again have 10 options.

I choose “catch of the day” from Cornwall, which is monkfish tail with buerre blanc sauce, dauphinoise potatoes and fresh vegetables.

Rosemary opts for a 6oz bavette steak with French fries and salad leaves.

We ease our anticipation with pints of thirst-quenching beer.

The food arrives and we duly tuck in. Mine is delicious, Rosemary’s also.

The fish is tender and delicately tasty, the potato quite something, the sauce dreamy, containing local dandelion, elderflower and butter. Certainly rich, but not overpowering.

The mixed vegetables of carrot, mange tout and tender stem broccoli “al dente” are just perfect. What balance.

When I eat this again I’ll choose not beer but a quality dry white wine instead.

Rosemary’s steak does not last very long. Her excuse is that it was very flavoursome. She loves the salad dressing and dips her fries into my sauce when I’m distracted. I don’t mind, it is good to share.

After nearly polishing off another pint, I ask my wife if she would like a pudding.

She has a choice of six options minus the cheeseboard. She goes for a summer berry panna cotta.

When delivered it is work of art. I could stare at it all day even though I prefer savoury to sweet. Of course, it disappears in a trice.

I was tempted by the cheese but, meal consumed, I’m full and happily content.

We’ll be back, without a shadow of a doubt.

Vincent Ruane

Wine and Dine

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