Muddy eats: The Greyhound, Rotherfield Peppard
Muddy heads down to celeb chef Antony Worrall Thompson's renowned south Oxon gastropub. Bonkers interiors and stunning food? Now you're talking.
Antony and Jay Worrall Thompson’s pub is tucked away down a country lane in the South Oxfordshire village of Rotherfield Peppard. A 15 minute drive from Henley and 20 minutes from Reading and, I’m ashamed to say, just 20 minutes from my house yet this was my first visit. I took my mum for lunch on a warm, sunny Friday and we sat outside in the garden where there’s plenty of comfortable seating. There’s also a little party shack which l can imagine being great fun on a balmy summer evening with friends.
The Friday lunchtime we were there soon became busy with couples, girly lunchers and groups of older people – a real mix. If you want to go somewhere to switch off and feel completely looked after, this is the place for you. Despite its celeb chef foodie credentials, it feels relaxed and unpretentious and we were made extremely welcome by the friendly staff. The decor treads a fine line between eclectic and utterly bonkers, with quirky signs and vintage finds filling every inch of wall space, as well as hanging from the beams and ceilings. We spotted lacrosse sticks, giant teddy bears and stuffed animals dotted amid the crystal chandeliers. According to Jay who looks after the front of house, it all came from the Worrall Thompson loft. Wowzers!
There are various seating areas with a cosy snug, the parlour, and the barn. All these spaces plus the outside decking (which has the biggest parasol you’ve ever seen) and lawn can be booked individually or altogether for private parties.
SCOFF & QUAFF
It’s probably won’t surprise you to hear that AWT can cook a bit, to put it mildly. There’s a huge confidence and playfulness to the menu, along with interesting twists on classic dishes. Spoiler alert: everything we tried was outstanding. The restaurant is renowned for its pricey Wagyu beef – when we visited it you could try it BBQ Korean style or in a puff pastry pie with mushrooms, red wine and Colcannon mash.
Among the starters, there’s a choice between mushrooms, scallops or crabs, each cooked three ways. My mum plumped for the former (above) – wild mushroom soup with a cheese straw, wild mushroom arancini and roast field mushroom with melting brie and onions. Meanwhile, I went for the jazzed up mac’n’cheese (below), made with Cornish crab and chilli, accompanied by a tomato and red onion salad. I mean, just look at it.
Onto mains and my mum went for an 8oz Aberdeen Angus Burger. For £16, it better have been good and this one sure was. You can add a myriad of toppings and sauces to all the burgers and steaks, with everything from homemade kimchi through to chilli con carne (because who doesn’t want to garnish their meat with more meat?!) to a fried egg. She stuck with the homemade cucumber pickle, house sauce, mayo. It came with – be still my beating heart – Wagyu fat chips.
I chose one of the signature dishes, Surf and Turf, medallions of Angus fillet topped with tiger prawns, croquette potato and buttered greens. Clean plates all round, basically. Dessert? Well, if you insist. We nailed a moreish almond cake with mango sorbet, a coffee and soaked up the early spring sunshine before reluctantly peeling ourselves off our seats and heading home.
OUT AND ABOUT
There’s plenty to see nearby. Henley is down the road if you want to walk off your lunch along the riverside and look at the boats or you could have a wander around the grounds at nearby National Trust property Greys Court (in late spring you’ll be able to see its renowned bluebells in full bloom, above). But to be honest, The Greyhound is a destination in itself – once you arrive you’ll hunker down and be in no hurry to leave.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Groups big and small, family gatherings with older children, parties and celebrations (they do a few weddings). Those who want to kick back, relax and stuff their faces. And foodies obviously – the cooking here is faultless. Although we went at lunchtime, you can just tell that it’d be great fun at night – check the website for their live music programme. I’m returning soon with my girlfriends and we’re booking a taxi! It’s super dog friendly in the bar area if you want to take your four-legged pals with you.
Not for: Those who prefer the formality of a fine dining restaurant. This place has the feel of a superior family-run pub (um, because it is!). The wood walk opposite the pub is a half an hour jaunt, so if you’re after a serious leg stretcher you’ll have to go further afield.
£££: You could go super-spendy for a special occasion. The Wagyu fillet is £60 but you could easily just spend £15 – £20 on a main course for a weekday lunch. Starters are £7 – £12 and puddings are around the £8 mark. There’s a wide-ranging wine list with varied prices, something for everyone.
The Greyhound, Gallowstree Rd, Rotherfield Peppard, Henley RG9 5HT. Tel: 0118 9722227.
Words: Josella Waldron