The Old Thatched Inn, Adstock
Good pubs get thin on the ground in North Bucks, but add this quaint thatched offering, close to Stowe Landscape Gardens and Claydon House, to your list.
The Muddy reviewing trousers are a leeetle tight around the waist right now (a situation possibly connected to the 8,000 Aperol spritzes I polished off over the summer) so I thought it wise to dispatch a colleague to eat her way through this Bucks gastropub’s menu. Sarah O’Hanlon dropped in at The Old Thatched Inn for a midweek lunch – here’s how she got on.
First things first: a high five for the incredible display of vividly-coloured flowers bursting from hanging baskets and window boxes. Kerb appeal? You bet. They’re a visual feast – and someone has their work cut out just watering them all. The whole setting, in fact, is rather pretty, with this picture-perfect trad English hostelry, which dates back to the 1600s, standing proud in the tiny village of Adstock, between Buckingham and Aylesbury.
Owner Andy also runs The Crown at Granborough nearby, which has the Muddy seal of approval (see our review from last year).
We received the warmest welcome I’ve experienced in a long time in a pub, a spot-on combo of friendly and professional. First we were led to the sofas and offered drinks and menus to choose our food. After 15 minutes or so chatting and enjoying our G&Ts, we were then whisked to our table for lunch. It was quaintly formal for a pub but very sweet. Throughout the meal, staff were on hand but not hovering too close. We felt they cared about the pub, the food and us. Have a dog? They’ll care about him too, this place is definitely dog-friendly.
As for the décor, this place oozes classic country pub charm. There are beams on the ceiling and flagstone tiles on the floors as you come in through the front door to a proper pub bar, with an enticing inglenook fireplace for a cosy ambience in the colder months.
The bar opens out into wooden floors and cosy sofas around coffee tables, plus there’s a large, airy conservatory and various other nooks and crannies to make 120 covers in all. So even if you haven’t got a reservation there’s a good chance they’ll fit you in. We visited midweek in late August so the pub was fairly quiet although ticking over with a couple of tables of women, some couples and a family or two.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The menus are huge – almost daunting! – and then there are daily specials on top. Our standout starter was the moreish pulled pork fritters with red cabbage slaw.
As for mains, my pan-fried fillet of sea bream came with crushed minted peas and crispy potatoes to die for; crispy on the outside and melt-in-the-mouth fluffy magic on the inside.
My partner went for a confit leg of Aylesbury duck because it’s not something we’d cook at home and you can’t get more locally sourced, I guess. It came with oriental noodles, pak choi, crispy spring roll and hoisin sauce; a huge plate of food that he struggled to finish. There were a lot of things going on with this dish and I wonder if the spring rolls might’ve been better as a side.
I had fish and chips envy when I saw a plate arrive at a nearby table. The fish was huuuge and we had a side portion of the same chips which were sensational. I’m not sure what the trick is (twice baked or thrice baked maybe?) but wow, I can highly recommend them.
We weren’t there for Sunday lunch obviously but I liked the fact that, unlike many pubs that just offer a set Sunday Lunch Menu, here you can choose from the à la carte menu too – good news for my fussy family.
We were ridiculously full so skipped dessert but I was very tempted by the Horwood cherry panna cotta with butter waffle biscuits. But there were diddy home-made fudgey sweets with our coffees which was a nice touch.
Drinks-wise, there’s trad beer offerings such as London Pride, Hooky, Butcombe and Doom Bar, but they support local spots Vale Brewery and Tring Brewery too.
The wine selection is really rather good – there’s just the right amount so that you don’t get lost in pages and pages but a well-curated selection with something for everyone. Andy clearly knows his stuff. We plumped for a smooth and delicious Malbec.
OUT & ABOUT
It’s definitely worth a 20 minute detour to the stunning Stowe gardens for a pre or post lunch stroll around the Capability Brown landscaped gardens. Also nearby is the National Trust’s Claydon House with its lavish eighteenth century interiors.
And then there’s the lovely gift and homewares shop MOOD in Winslow just down the road for super-stylish home décor. Go take a peek (but not on a Monday or Sunday when it’s closed).
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those chips! They were some of the best we’ve tasted. The Old Thatched Inn is ideal for a big family weekend lunch or a cosy winter pub evening by the fire, curling up on a squidgy sofa as you work your way through the wine list. It’s also a dead cert for taking overseas visitors – it doesn’t get more quintessentially English than this.
Not for: Those expecting slick styling – this is a quaint rural pub, so don’t expect Elle Deco polish. AThere’s not really a garden either so if you have small kids who are at the ‘running around like loonies’ stage or a dog that isn’t willing to curl up next to your legs, it might not be your number one choice in the summer.
The damage: Prices are reasonable. The Mon-Fri set lunch menu is £14.95 for 2 courses, £18.95 for 3. Sunday lunch is around £16. Children’s main courses are £6.50.
The Old Thatched Inn, Main St, Adstock, Buckinghamshire MK18 2JN. Tel: 01296 712584.
Words: Sarah O’Hanlon