Try something different
Not many places locally where Sunday lunch and architectural salvage collide so deliciously. Fancy a nibble?
We’re fans of LASSCO Three Pigeons’ Thursday night jazz nights (niiiiiiiice) and breakfasts (it’s open from 9.30am weekdays and Saturdays) but how does the Milton Common pub-cum-salvage yard fare as a Sunday lunch spot? Muddy’s Kerry Potter took the family for a slap-up roast dinner.
The London architectural salvage yard opened this Oxon outpost a decade back but it’s only been in the last year or so that the food offering has been ramped up from coffee, breakfasts and light lunches to a more hearty gastro-pub offering. It’s now open for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and Muddy favourites Native Feasts have held pop-up supper clubs here (fact: yours truly acted as venue/gastro matchmaker!).
You don’t come here for the scenery to be honest as it’s just off junction 7 of the M40, on the busy road between Thame and Little Milton. But inside there’s plenty to see – all the vintage and antique fixtures and fittings are for sale so if you look closely every chair and light shade has a price tag attached. My children were mesmerized by the African masks, colourful flags, mirrors, busts and knick-knacks populating every corner, shelf and wall.
It has a rustic, mismatched feel, every piece has a story, and it’s about a million times more quirky than any other gastro pub in the locale. We ate huddled up next to a roaring woodburner – it was snowing outside – under the watchful eye of a Victorian bust of Robert Burns up on the mantelpiece, a snip at £2.6k (“No darling, don’t touch that. DON’T TOUCH IT.”)
Look closely at the wooden bar, meanwhile, and you realize it’s made from the wooden floorboards of a sports hall badminton court. Because of the snow they’d had several lunch cancellations so the lunch service was quiet – just a few tables of multi-generational family groups, but a friend had dropped by the previous weekend on Mothering Sunday and said was packed to the gills and buzzing.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The Sunday lunch menu is short, sharp and to the point, with just four mains, two of which are roasts. We started with a decent duck and orange paté with red onion marmalade and homemade oatcakes. For mains, I had a fillet of John Dory with a tomato, chickpea stew and green veg but I would say go for the roast, as the rest of my family did. The meat is locally sourced (the lamb is from Sandy Lane Farm which is just two minutes down the road), gravy levels are set to maximum (always a good sign) and the Yorkshire puddings are deliciously pillowy. Plus it comes with eight different brilliantly fresh-from-the-farm vegetables, including roast Jerusalem artichokes, rocking cauliflour cheese and honey-roasted carrots and parsnips. Here’s my husband’s roast beef.
Room for dessert? What do you take me for? Of course there was room for dessert. This dark chocolate brownie with honeycomb ice cream was the pick of our bunch.
The cooking here is certainly a cut above your usual pub grub I’d say, and they certainly know their way around a roast dinner. That said, if I was nit-picking there were a few small details that missed the mark – no freshly ground pepper on the table, for example, plus my husband wasn’t asked how he wanted his beef cooked (it came medium-rare which he was happy with but still).
OUT & ABOUT
Er, well, um, you’re on a motorway junction, so frankly nothing of interest is walkable. And the salvage yard – in outhouses in the back garden – isn’t actually open on a Sunday, so you’ll need to come on another day if you fancy a pre or post prandial rummage among the goodies. However you’re a mere 5 minute jaunt in the car from Thame (best shop there by a country mile is concept-y gift store FROM); you’re close to the super-pretty villages of Great and Little Haseley, and if you’re absolutely minted you can go stay the night at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons – it’s literally 10 minutes down the road.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Gatherings of family or friends where people are travelling from afar – that motorway access is ideal if you’re coming from London, Oxford or Birmingham. There’s plenty of space for big groups, but also cosy, quiet tables for two as well. I’d be less inclined to come for a romantic meal à deux as I think it’s more fun in a bigger group – and you can hire out the whole place for a party. Make sure you draw straws for designated driver though – there’s no walking home from here.
Not for: If your children are very hyper, there’s the danger of a bull in a china shop situation arising with all those pricey antiques around – and it’s not safe for them go feral outside, given the adjacent motorway. But if they’ll sit down, and get stuck into the colouring and books provided, it’s absolutely fine. And if you’re after starched white table-cloths and wallet-emptying fine dining then may we re-direct you down the road to Monsieur Blanc’s gaff.
The damage: The roast beef was £18.50 which is the high end of reasonable for a gastro-pub Sunday lunch – but good value given the mammoth portion. There’s no children’s menu, but they’ll do half-size (but still massive), half-price versions of the mains. Starters and desserts all around £5.50 but you probably won’t need both.
LASSCO The Three Pigeons, London Road, Milton Common, Oxon OX9 2JN; 01844 277183
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Words: Kerry Potter