Saturday, 02 July 2022

A pub where good food really matters

THE Baskerville’s motto is “where food really matters” and after enjoying a three-course meal at its restaurant I can wholeheartedly

THE Baskerville’s motto is “where food really matters” and after enjoying a three-course meal at its restaurant I can wholeheartedly attest to that.

The establishment is a blend of a traditional village pub, complete with stools and real ales. Yet just a couple of steps away and you are in a spacious, yet cosy, restaurant. It also offers accommodation.

The Baskerville was constructed in the mid-Thirties with very little change in its layout since that time.

Manager Kevin Hannah gave us a warm welcome and showed us to our table.

Head chef Marc Price has ensured there is something for everyone on the pub’s winter evening menu which features soups, steaks, fish and vegetarian dishes.

The specials board offered diners a choice of Blacksticks blue cheese, potato and broccoli soup, home-smoked halibut and cod chowder, as starters, and an 8oz 28-day, dry aged Aberdeen Angus beef fillet that comes with triple-cooked chips, grilled tomato, chestnut mushrooms and a rich peppercorn sauce.

I opted for the pan-fried Isle of Man king scallops, available as a starter or a main course from the specials, and the roast rack of Bassibones farm lamb. My friend decided to have the crispy fried salt and pepper squid with a saffron aioli, lemon and Secretts salad to start and the fillet steak to follow.

While we waited I enjoy a glass of Chilean cabernet sauvignon that is sweet and fruity and, above all, smooth on the palate. My friend had a subtle pino grigio.

The scallops in my starter were plump, juicy and perfectly cooked without a hint of chewiness.

They were served on black pudding with a pea purée and pea shoots that provided an earthy quality to the dish. The pancetta crisp also on my plate gave a saltiness that sat well next to the understated flavour of the scallops. The salt and pepper squid was tender and with the crispy batter providing a pleasing combination in texture.

The cool and tangy aioli complemented the squid well and the side salad was not drowned in dressing. The lamb for my main was tender with its mint and cumin crust meaning there was no need to accompany the dish with added mint sauce and risk losing the delicious flavour of the lamb.

The roast baby vegetables — which included carrots, broccoli and parsnips — were well-cooked and had not become soft. A tangy redcurrant jus brought the whole dish together.

My friend asked for his steak medium-rare and the fillet was cooked to perfection.

The bed of mushrooms, in a rich sauce, accompanied the meat well and the grilled tomato added a refreshing burst of flavour. The thick cut chips were fluffy in the middle.

For dessert I chose the bitter chocolate tart with a cooling walnut ice cream, complete with chunks of walnut. Glazed clementine segments gave a sweet element to temper the dark chocolate.

My friend’s sticky toffee pudding was light and spongy with a rich sauce and creamy vanilla ice cream.

We both enjoyed our experience at the Baskerville with its excellent food and customer service.

It’s hardly surprising then that it has been “highly commended” in the tourism pub category of the Beautiful South Awards run by Tourism South East and awarded an AA rosette for the quality of its food.

On the basis of our experience here both are thoroughly deserved.

Restaurant: The Baskerville, Lower Shiplake

Prices: starters £6 to £11.50, mains £13.50 to £30 (incl specials)

Contact: 0118 940 3332,

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