The perfect pub grub?
Scampi aficionado Jo Sutherland has a lotta love for the classic pub fayre at the newly rebooted Full Moon in Hawridge.
There’s only so much propping up of bars and scoffing of chips that I can do in any one week so I sent Muddy’s Jo Sutherland to check out the newly refurbed and jazzed up Full Moon, deep in the Chilterns countryside in Hawridge. Take the Muddy elasticated reviewing trousers and fly, my pretty!
However you approach The Full Moon in Hawridge, be it driving, cycling or walking (this is prime stomping ground for MAMILs and ramblers), it’s a very pretty journey. You whizz along windy country roads and diddy enclaves until you eventually stumble across a tiny hamlet in the middle of the triangle between Chesham, Berkhamsted and Great Missenden. It’s so off the beaten track I didn’t know it existed, despite living locally.
Husband and wife team Phil and Hannah took over the 16th century coaching inn earlier this year, on a mission to create a decent, quality village boozer at the heart of the community, with a menu that would please the locals and draw in visitors from further afield. Phil is a farmer with several thousand nearby acres to tend to, so Hannah, who previously worked in the hospitality industry, runs it day to day.
On taking over the pub, the first thing they did was close for a month for a refurb. It’s been sympathetically done, so bye bye sticky swirly carpets, hello original floor tiles. It’s still fairly trad and cosy in the way you want a rural pub to be but there’s not an overload of fuss or chintz, just the odd poster urging you to drink Prosecco (hey, I don’t need urging) or attend the pub quiz or live music on Fridays.
We went for lunch on a Friday and I expected it to be deathly quiet with just the odd local sipping half a lager. More fool me – the bar was brimming with walkers, a local women’s group and couples eating lunch, meaning a lovely low-key buzz. Apparently it’s big with active types during daytimes thanks to the numerous walking and cycle routes nearby, while during the summer months everyone piles into the spacious garden to enjoy the views. We ate in the restaurant in front of a roaring log fire and luckily we had to leave as soon as we’d finished – otherwise we were in danger of popping our shoes off and having a post prandial snooze. The service is as warm as that fire though so I get the feeling that wouldn’t have been a problem.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Head chef Andrew O’Connor is bang into fresh, locally sourced produce – the meat all comes from Mayo Brothers butchers in Chesham Bois, while the fish is delivered from Cornwall directly without going through Billingsgate to ensure it’s super fresh. (I was there when it arrived so can vouch for this claim).
We had potted shrimp with toasted sourdough to start, which was buttery and rich but not cloying as some I’ve had. My only criticism was that one slice of the sourdough was quite burnt (but, ahem, I still ate it). My husband had a nice pint of London Pride and I had a Picpoul from a short but decent wine list.
For my main I had monkfish tail scampi. As a scampi aficionado (new job title for my business card, perhaps?), it’s my absolute go-to and I can honestly say it was the freshest and meatiest scampi I’ve ever had, and as about as far removed from the frozen kind as you can imagine. The chips were crispy and the whole meal felt light for classic pub grub. Along with the burger, apparently it’s their best-seller and I can see why.
My husband had a steak, onion and potato pie, which was full of large chunks of soft meat, diddy onions and potatoes with a crumbly short crust pastry top with buttery mash potato and greens on the side.
Lemon tart, seasonal fruit crumble and chocolate brownie headed up the puds menu but I was just too full. Definitely next time though. This cooking isn’t gastro or fancy, and has no pretensions, but everything is fresh, good quality and homemade. Which is exactly what you want from pub grub, right?
OUT & ABOUT
It’s plonked in the middle of a beautiful spot within the Chilterns, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty of course, so a stroll or bike ride is basically mandatory. Market town Berkhamsted is just a 10 minute drive away and has a castle which is open every day, or you could stop by en route to the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden, which is a 20 minute drive.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: A family lunch weekend – they have a kid’s menu and are happy to do smaller versions of any of the main meals other than the pies (although I’m sure you can hoover up any leftovers, no?). It also makes a good pit stop after or midway though a walk or cycle with big groups of friends or family.
Not for: The wine bar glitterati or someone who likes a fancy-pants jus piddled over their pie – it’s a down-to-earth kind of spot. And it’s not the place for a fancy treat.
The damage: Great value, given the quality of the food. Starters average around £6, main around £10, the bargainous fish and chips are under £7 and the children’s dishes are £6.50.
Full Moon, Cholesbury Lane, Hawridge, Bucks HP5 2UH. Tel: 01494 758959.