Charming, understated pub in Bedfordshire serving quality and simple food with genuine service - a very nice find.
This is a lovely option off the beaten track which most would probably drive past noting the whitewashed exterior only. As pubs go this had a huge car park and a charming interior with an array of staff in the background. It’s difficult not to be taken by the alluring interior and log fire as soon as you walk in. A lovely venue here, with good food and a team that clearly cares about the product and guest experience that will comfortably tick numerous boxes for any occasion.
Getting straight to it, I thought the food here was positively lovely. It doesn’t need to be intricate and in most cases the simple things done well will always win and here I enjoyed seeing and tasting just this. The first serving at the table was the home made bread, straight out of the oven and this was indeed a strong opening impression as although it was a little bit dense for my taste, there are many Michelin starred restaurants that simply don’t bother to go to this level of detail and effort. So this was not only noticeable from the word go but was also pleasant to dip in the olive oil served with as well.
The crab thermidor was a dish I haven’t seen in quite a while and was very nice to see again, full of flavour with pleasant textures to keep interesting. Although the butternut squash soup was not my dish, I have to say on trying it had a strong impact for just being that good. The medallions of fillet steak were beautifully done and were wonderful on their own, but the fresh béarnaise sauce was so good, the meat was never going to be allowed to be left on its own. I believe you can tell a lot about a kitchen based on its sauce alone, and here the béarnaise was done superbly – perfect consistency and with just the right zing from the tarragon combined with the creamyness that béarnaise fans would wish. Bravo on this count alone.
The creamed spinach was fullsome but not swimming in cream as so many venues do which is a big error in my book as that simply causes cream-bleeding all over the rest of the plate, leaking in to other parts so I really liked this version, as well as the hand cut, tripple cooked chips – just the right size (not too big) but with that lovely fluffiness coated with a reassuring and satisfying crunch at the same time.
The dessert of whisky and chestnut parfait was carefully done and although I didn’t think as highly as the main (difficult to top the quality of the main), I thought with the creme anglaise and hazelnut meringe it was good.
One thing struck me by the time the coffees arrived afterwards, which was that the service had been outstanding throughout the meal and at no time had our table been pestered to be asked how it all was which happens in so many venues and, to be harsh but fair, this is clearly driven by a need to satisfy a restaurant’s insecurity rather than think of the guest’s comfort. The diner will always say what they think at the end and does not need to be badgered about this and so I thought the unobtrusive and caring nature of the service here was exceedingly good and as caring as that which had clearly gone in to the cooking.
I was genuinely pleased with this and not expecting to be so happy with the product, so this is a pleasure to be writing as is always lovely to come across a new discovery like this when you least expect it.
Food Grade: 77%
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