The English countryside is the ideal retreat to pass the weekend. Secluded villages conceal gastronomic surprises within an easy carriage ride from Londonium. Your Doctor ventured forth along the winding narrow roads of the Chilterns to find The Old Plow. An olde 17th Century pub, now a restaurant, secreted in the village of Speen in the Chiltern Hills. Your Doctor has eaten here on numerous occasions. One always receives a friendly welcome and a pre-prandial in the cosy bar is a must. The classic English charm of the restaurant is augmented by solid oak beams and welcoming, blazing fires in winter. Summer affords one time for an aperitif in the quiet garden in front.
“But” one can hear you say, “what of the food?” Mes amis, chef Malcolm has a noble career in distinguished restaurants and brings his distinctive style to the restaurant. Fish is freshly delivered from Devon and the beef from a farm in Arkansas where it is aged for 35 days. BUT! a conundrum one finds, is that the menu (The Old Plow menu – 2013) is large, varied and the selection so tempting that it is hard to choose. Influences range from French, olde Englishe and Asia cuisine.
Admittedly, your Doctor was decidedly unadventurous and selected the New York strip with starter of roast beetroot and goats’ cheese salad.
Naturally, there were dining companions! No meal would be complete without one’s chums. Durdle chose mussels. Dalrymple selected a quirky combination of grilled baby chicken with tiger prawns which he seemed to enjoy (see one’s daguerreotype below!) and this was after consuming a large seafood assiette with its cornucopia of fish. Dalrymple had generously offered some of oak smoked salmon from his starter which one concurred was delicious.
Fortescue, with his usual penchant for meat, meat and meat chose… steak. Oh that his less than catholic palate might be enticed to try some of the more interesting dishes on offer! No doubt his tastes are not unique – harrumph!
The Doctor’s main course selection was not the best. The Yorkshire pudding was more like a crisp and the steak was medium-well rather than medium rare. However the meat was tasty and did not merit highlighting. This was a rare slip but it was not enough to raise with management. As one’s readers know, your doctor will speak up when things are REALLY not right!
Chef Malcolm is a man who knows a fine wine or two and his list contains some gems. A crisp and tangy picpoul was a perfect accompaniment to our starters . However, this was trumped by an excellent, full-bodied Corbières with a real depth of character. Both Dalrymple and Durdle commented on its merit. Methinks that Fotheringay would approve. Alas, your doctor attempted to hunt the wine down on the interweb but it is not on the supplier’s web site.
The atmosphere was lively and convivial as usual and all at the table seemed content. The staff were efficient and friendly. A quick chat with Olivia, the co-proprietor and wife of Malcolm updated us on the latest news. Then, mango sorbet for the Doctor and coconut ice cream with Tia Maria for Fortescue provided a refreshing end to the meal.
One would only stumble upon this eatery had one been informed of its existence and only the locals and the cognoscenti are aware it exists. Hurrah! Mes amis, this fine eatery is privée. Keep away!
The Old Plow
Tel: +44 (0)1494 488300