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South Oxon classic pub grub

Gawd knows we love a revamped pub on Muddy so it's hello, how are you and make mine three courses at The Chequers in Burcot.

Looking for a family pub option in South Oxfordshire? Muddy’s Josella Waldron has been down to check out The Chequers, newly refurbed in the tiny hamlet of Burcot.

THE LOCATION 

The Chequers is a 400 year old inn in the tiny hamlet of Burcot, a two minute drive (or 20 minute walk on footpaths) from the beautiful village of Dorchester-on-Thames with its magnificent Abbey, 6 miles from Abingdon and 9 miles from Oxford. At the side of the busy A415 it would be easy to whizz past and dismiss The Chequers as another roadside pub as it looks inauspicious and a bit scraggy-of-thatch from the outside, but don’t let its lack of kerb appeal put you off.

 

THE VIBE

Relaxed, friendly and extremely welcoming, landlord Steve (who’s also the chef) has been running the place for the last 12 years. This summer the pub re-opened after a major re-fit and I think you’ll like what they’ve done. The tired traditional black beamed interior has been given a modern, eclectically rustic makeover with distressed wooden shelves, industrial downlighters, stag heads on the walls and a cool backlit wood store  though you still have your requisite cosy log fire to sit by while you have a pre-dinner cocktail or G&T  (12 gins and 5 Fever Tree tonics to work your way through if you’re counting).

There are new snug booths for when it’s time to eat with views of the fire and bar and also a separate, light and airy dining area which can be booked for larger groups or parties (you can even book the whole pub if you’re hosting a particularly big bash).

 SCOFF & QUAFF 

Hard to put a label on the food but let’s go for ‘British contemporary’ – a mix of traditional pub fare with a twist and more adventurous offerings. There’s a pie and a fish special every day and side dishes – triple fried chips, roasted veg, truffled wild mushrooms – are ordered separately, which means you can have exactly what you want without the awkwardness of asking for something different. Presentation was great, as you can see from the pics below and the quality of food was excellent gastropub fare – much better than the exterior of the pub would have led me to believe.

I started off with Bubble & Squeak with crispy bacon, crispy poached egg and HP sauce (£7, delicious thanks), followed by the fish of the day – pan fried sea bass with crushed lemon potatoes and ratatouille. Really tasty and I say this as a non-fishy kind of person. 

With five different steaks to choose from, my husband went local with the Oxfordshire sirloin with blue cheese sauce (£18). It came with a little pot of mushroom ketchup (spicy – it’s got marmite in it!).  He also had skinny fries (£3) and a bowl of peas with garlic, bacon and shallots (£4).

For dessert I had apple and cinnamon crumble – the apples couldn’t be any more local, they’re from trees across the road! My husband had vanilla Crème brûlée. Both were a lovely end to the meal.

Fancy something smaller?  There’s a selection of tasters (calamari, pork bites, crackling and apple), sandwiches and sharing boards which would be just the job if you were popping in for a quick lunch. Worth noting that there is no actual kids menu here, but children are very welcome (there’s at least 8 highchairs out the back) and they’ll make up smaller portions of the main dishes on request. I’m sold on it – I’m going back with my mum and kids in a few weeks!

 

OUT & ABOUT

You may well feel the need to walk off your lunch (the portions are good) so head to Dorchester-on-Thames for a stroll along its pretty high street and maybe a look round the 12th century abbey. Or if you’re after something slightly more energetic –  and your children need to blow off some steam – head to Wittenham Clumps – a 15 minute drive –  for a good country walk and panoramic views of south Oxfordshire.

 

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

Good for: Family Sunday lunches, cheeky mid-week meet-ups with friends, cosy weekend dinners and those needing a reliable pit-stop on the way home. Book up for weekends, it gets superbusy. If your parents go on about parking facilities, tell them to relax – there are plenty of spaces! 

Not for: Those wanting to sit outside.  There is a pub garden but it’s not hugely appealing next to such a busy road.

££:  Excellent food at a very reasonable prices.  Starters are £5 – £7, mains start at £10 for a hamburger up to £25 for the most expensive steak with sides at £3 – £5.

The Chequers at Burcot, Abingdon Rd, Burcot OX14 3DP. Tel: 01865 407771.

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