Roald Dahl’s lickswishy local
On a blowy, overcast day last month I found a little ray of sunshine in the handsome red brick walls of the 15th century The Nag’s Head in Great Missenden. Very much a local’s pub – Roald Dahl being the most famous local of all and such a fan that The Nag’s Head featured in Fantastic Mr Fox. But importantly this rural pub also punches well above its weight on the food front, with an AA rosette for culinary excellence and several regional awards.
Its position is just outside the village actually, a 10 minute walk to the quaint high street with its run of shops, themselves much superior to the usual village fare, with The Roald Dahl Museum (catnip for the under 12s), lovely gift shops Alphabet Soup and Blue Sky (warning: you will buy something) and the Elizabeth Wintgens Gallery. The Nag’s Head is fairly flush to a busy country road, so I’d probably drive here rather than risk the walk, particularly with little kids, but once you’re at the pub, there’s a large garden to the rear that backs onto the local cricket ground, so it’s definitely a place that works equally well for summer and the colder months to come.
Inside the atmosphere is warm, with exposed beams, plenty of brickwork and a lovely open fire. The furnishings play it safe, with a checked carpet, basic wooden tables and furniture, curtains with pelmets and inoffensive art dotting the walls. Nothing to sweatily instagram to your cool designer friends, but attractive enough in that familiar country pub way.
I ate in the raised dining room at the end of the bar, a fortuitous position if like me you enjoy people watching down at the bar, a spot which, importantly, has its fair share of high stools and tables for more casual drop-ins.
It being a slightly chilly day, I managed to justify a very piggy fish and chips. As you can see there ain’t no scrimpin on the sizes. The Rebellion beer batter was crispy but not oily, the fish succulent, the tartar sauce homemade, chips were sadly not triple baked (in for a penny, in for an extra 2lbs) but it definitely pleased enough for me to gobble up the whole thing.
Dessert was a total act of piggery, a chocolatey treacly number that made like Nicholas Cage and was Gone in 60 Seconds.
As I often review on a week day, I can sometimes be sitting with me, myself and I, but The Nag’s Head was gratifyingly busy on my lunch sitting – always a good sign. I’m guessing it’s a mixed bag here between the locals and tourists, and that’s an intoxicating mix I think – the locals don’t get bored with each other, and the visitors feel part of the village.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Relaxed family gatherings. The vibe in the pub is relaxed, and the garden to the rear is large, with views out onto the Chiltern Hills, so kids can get a breath of fresh air (yes, that’s a euphemism) when sitting still becomes all too much. Worth noting that if you eat here it’s currently 2 Roald Dahl Museum tickets for 1, saving either £6.60 for an adult or £4.40 for 5-18s. The pub would suit ramblers too as Sunday lunches continue until 7pm, plenty of time to complete a long walk in one of the many beautiful walks in the area. An option for larger parties who need an overnight stay – there are 5 double rooms and 1 twin here. It’s also dog friendly – four legs are welcome in the bar area.
Not for: True romantics will struggle to get in the mood for love here. Those who look beyond ye olde beams for their interiors fix might feel slightly underwhelmed.
££: On the more expensive side for a pub, but my friends, you are in Great Missenden! My fish and chips was £14.95, but duck breast and confit leg goes up to 17.95 and most prices hover between £17-18. Sunday lunches are £15-17.
The Nags Head, London Road, Great Missenden, Bucks, HP16 0DG. Tel: 01494 862200. nagsheadbucks.com