Tuesday, 19 November 2013
The Greyhound pub - part of the Antony Worral Thompson group
AWT's pub in Rotherfield Peppard near Henley-on-Thames is in a relatively isolated but picturesque place. I mention this because its remote location means nothing to those who flock through the doors. I visited on a Sunday, where bookings are taken in seating's and every table was full through the whole of service.
Antony was in the kitchen over-seeing every dish that came out and his perfectionism and precision shone through on the dishes that came to the table. He emerged from the kitchen twice to circulate the pubs two small dining rooms, to cast an eye and check all was well with his patrons.
The food itself is far from your average pub fare. What makes this place so special is that superb food is served in an entirely unassuming environment. You don't need to wear your Sunday best to enjoy a roast here. The tables are wooden and varnished, there is no white linen in sight. There is no finesse to the look of the menu itself as it is purely a print out of what will be served that day. This isn't a restaurant about branding, this is a restaurant about food. Pictures adorn every wall, overlooked by huge purple chandeliers and stuffed animal heads. It attracts a clientele of all ages; no snobbery about children enjoying themselves. I would encourage parents to bring their brood as there is no sausage and chips option; children are free to explore the grown-ups menu. Plus, the giant teddy bears sitting in the rafters are sure to appeal.
The menu itself changes every day depending on what ingredients come in, so you know everything has been well thought out and is fresh. You could come for a month of Sundays and never eat the same thing twice. Though there is always a steak and burger menu, The Greyhound offers delicacy's like Chateaubriand. The chefs in the kitchen aren't adverse to experimentation. An accompaniment of mustard icecream was served with a ham terrine for example.
I went for an all fish menu of three fish starter; smoked salmon, prawns and avocado, and a mackerel pate served with soda bread. All the ingredients are simply prepared without fuss in a way which allows the quality of the ingredients to shine. For main, I had Spanish fish stew, full of monkfish, mussels, scallops and new potatoes in a delicately spiced sauce. The menu did not shy away from offal options or cheaper cuts of meat, which are widely known to add much more flavour and excitement than the usual mince beef or chicken breasts you would cook with at home. My fellow diners had deviled kidneys and lambs liver and tongue served with Col-cannon mash (buttered cabbage in mashed potato). This is gutsy cooking...!
Desserts were a triumph. A wedge of home made banofee pie, the crack of a creme brulee. Or for the really extravagant, the miniature dessert platter of Eton mess, creme brulee, meringue drizzled in toffee sauce, and a chocolate brownie for good measure. One common misconception is that the bigger the price tag of the dish, the smaller the portion. Not the case here. Did I mention they make their own icecream too? How about gin and tonic sorbet?
To top it off, the staff are fantastic, the service exemplary. Patron, manageress and wife to Anthony, Jay Worrall Thompson was there overseeing service alongside fellow manageress Hayley Steadman. Both ran the ship so well that service was seamless and they led the staff in creating an efficient and relaxed atmosphere.
Beg, borrow or steal a car to get there, as it is worth the journey.
Starters come in at around £8, mains from £12-24