Review: The Bull & Butcher, Turville

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Turville is one of the Buckinghamshire villages that needs to be on your day-trip list. Its TV credits are long and illustrious – the hill-top windwill starred in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the village was the setting for The Vicar of Dibley, and scenes for Jonathan Creek, Morse, Midsomer Murders and Carey Mulligan’s breakthrough film An Education have all been shot here. It’s so pretty it should goddam kiss itself.

There are some lovely walks and bridleways around the village, and its deliciously close to several the picturesque Chiltern neighbours Fingest and Hambleden if you enjoy tramping, have an attraction to hills and horses and are not in possession of young children demanding ransom treats five minutes into your walk.

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But whether you’re in it for the workout or just want a gentle amble amongst beautiful scenery, a major plus for Turville is its pub The Bull & Butcher. I visited two years ago and loved the food, but it was a bit like eating in a mausoleum. I was the only living creature there, and the pub felt a little, shall we say, waxy.

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A few months back this attractive 16th century inn was taken over by a lovely bloke called James who has thrown his life savings, heart, kitchen sink and anything else he can lay his hands on at it, with a view to returning it into a vibrant local, and certainly the day I visited he was managing very nicely thanks.

The pub was pleasantly buzzy in the one side that was open to the public during the day, and he fussed happily over the customers who seemed to be a mixture of locals and opportunistic walkers. Decor hits the nail on the head with open fires, lots of natural wood, muted F&B style paints and a wonderfully quirky well in the middle of the pub with a glass top that acts as a table.

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Unusually all the front of house staff are kitchen-trained, which is a great idea if you think about how often chefs go AWOL or are ill and also comforting if you see something on the menu (I’m thinking of my kohrabi moment last year at The Hundred of Ashendon) when you have no idea what it is. A chef’s bound to know!

I  had salmon and chips for main…

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followed by an apple and toffee crumble that didn’t quite pack the toffee punch I was hoping for….

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Both courses were decent without being remarkable but service was attentive and kind, and prices were affordable. Sensibly for a tourist destination, children are well catered to, with kids portions in the signature meals.

I wouldn’t send you to the The Bull & Butcher with you thinking of it as a superior foodie destination, but I think a good pub is much more than about just the food and I definitely enjoyed eating here – it’s relaxed, friendly, cosy, with decent food in a drop-dead gorgeous village. So on a sunny day with a walk to enjoy, the village to take in and an appetite to defeat, I’d be very happy to come in here again with my family and soak up the atmosphere. Weekends in particular are very busy, so book in for a roast and let me know what you think of it.

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

Good for: Families looking for a friendly pub for a post-walk lunch; blokes looking for a relaxed pint – it’s the kind of place you could comfortably sit for a solo drink. Tudor fans – The name Bull & Butcher comes from ‘Bullen Butcher’ – Bullen for Boleyn and Butcher for her axe-handy husband.

Not for: Serious foodies – the menu plays it safe rather than sensational. Design bods might balk at the Eighties typeface on the menus.

£££: Reasonable. £5-7ish for entrees and desserts. Kids meals with dessert are £7.50, most mains for lunch are around a tenner.

The Bull & Butcher, Turville, Henley on Thames RG9 6QU. 01491 638288

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