Sunday, 22 May 2022

Pub’s hint of Mrs Beaton can’t be beaten

VERY soon, the three-year anniversary of Ruth and Matthew Woodley taking over the Plowden Arms at

VERY soon, the three-year anniversary of Ruth and Matthew Woodley taking over the Plowden Arms at Shiplake will be upon us — and what an amazing transformation it has been.

Taking influences and inspiration from Eliza Acton and Mrs Beeton, the fantastic meals here are produced with an orientation around bygone eras — with a very modern skill set.

We were treated to Ruth in the kitchen, who really did deliver superbly on an ever-changing seasonal menu.

The first thing we noticed, embarking on our family Sunday lunch, was the venue’s wealth of character.

Roaring open fires provide warmth and ambience, and the stunning decor makes one feel instantly at home.

My main course was wild mushroom pearl barley risotto with vegetable crisps and goat curd. The spices, in combination with the fresh and notably high quality ingredients, were blended to perfection.

My partner chose slow roasted shoulder of pork, with crackling and apple sauce. The pork literally melted in the mouth and the side dishes of cauliflower cheese and root vegetable mash complemented it beautifully.

To complete the family dining experience, my toddly person Alexander was a welcome addition.

I am reliably informed that the sausage, mashed potatoes and carrots were “yummy, nummy — in my tummy!” For dessert, Alexander had a very tasty chocolate ice cream, and my partner the buttermilk pudding with sloe gin liqueur.

The latter was an absolute joy, with lovely, fresh vanilla pods and perfectly ripe berries.

My cheese board was a well conceived mix of cheeses — my favourites being the Kentish Blue and Dorset White.

Served with a fruit selection and biscuits, the chance to enjoy this by the open fire was a definite highlight.

Upon thanking our hosts for their hospitality, I said my goodbyes to the table adjacent to us in the now full restaurant.

The elderly couple we had befriended live in San Francisco. They holiday in Shiplake three times a year and always visit the Plowden Arms, which they call their “quintessentially British favourite eatery”.

Suffice to say that both locals and those from much further afield are now fully appreciative of Ruth and Matthew’s hard work in making the Plowden a destination restaurant to be truly proud of.

Review: Katie Thomas

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