Muddy eats: The Full Moon, Hawridge
With mega-fresh food and cosy country interiors, The Full Moon at Hawridge is a classic British pub through and through. Are you ready for an enormous portion?
Tucked away in Area of Outstanding Beauty amid the Chiltern hills, The Full Moon is a hidden gem that you’d be excused for not knowing about even if you’re a local. Berkhamsted is just 10 minutes away in the car but you feel like you’re right out in the boonies here. Locally born and bred owners Phil and Hannah took over the pub back in 2018 and refurbished it with the aim of a creating a community hub for the locals. Let’s see how they’re getting on.
Cosy, unpretentious, traditional. Oak beams and fireplaces abound in this 16th century inn and there’s a buzzy local vibe. The decor is typical country fare – round tables, curved leather seats, the occasional settee, and a downlit brick and wood bar area.
With four fireplaces you’d be forgiven for thinking The Full Moon banks its money over winter, but there’s also a large, neatly kept grassy beer garden, a glorious spot on a summer’s afternoon, with plenty of tables and space for small people and dogs (which are welcome in the bar) to run around.
Back inside, the traditional bar gives way to an attractively mis-matched dining room with exposed beams and flagstone floors. There’s a few nooks and crannies along the way too, dotted with tables and, if you’re lucky, your own private fireplace. If you’re seeking some privacy, these snugs are just the spot.
Shall we start with a beer? After being tempted by the interestingly named Side Pocket, my husband plumped for a pint of Moongazer. If the amber nectar isn’t your thing, there’s a decent range of gins and an impressive wine list, sold by the bottle or by the glass. I opted for a snifter of Gavi, thanks for asking.
My husband can never resist a starter of whitebait, and these didn’t disappoint – not the little tiddlers that you sometimes see as a light bite, but proper hearty ones that hit the spot. I opted for the chef’s signature dish for 2020, which was a perfectly formed fishcake on a bed of cheesy leeks, topped with a perfectly runny poached egg.
The food is in keeping with trad decor – you won’t find nouvelle cuisine or hipster ingredients, instead there’s hearty, well executed classics in very generous portions.
The mantra here is fresh and local – head chef Andrew O’Connor puts his ingredients orders in at 10pm for delivery the next morning and arrives by 7am for food prep. The menu majors on pub classics – burger, pies, fish and chips and so on, with some veggie and vegan options too. Children have their own menu, with smaller offerings of the grown up dishes.
For mains, my husband – predictably – went for the fillet steak, which arrived with crispy hand-cut chips and the largest field mushroom I’ve ever seen. It was cooked medium as requested and he demolished the lot.
I continued with my fishy theme and nailed some delicious coconut prawns with salsa, with courgette fritters on the side. Our hosts were more than happy to accommodate my request of choosing two starters as a main.
We honestly thought that we couldn’t squeeze in another morsel but then Hannah mentioned a homemade sticky toffee pudding and it was sayonara to any self-control. That dessert was divine – moist, not too sweet, and big enough that – for shame – I couldn’t even manage the little chocolate mint that came with the bill.
OUT AND ABOUT
Hawridge is pretty and has its own golf club, but beyond that, there’s not much to see on the pub’s doorstep. However it’s the beautiful countryside here that’s the real draw, making The Full Moon a prime pitstop for walkers and cyclists. There are idyllic strolls long the River Chess and good walking/bike routes along the Ridgeway. Chesham is 10 minutes in the car, as is Berkhamsted, or you could always combine with a visit the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden, which is a 20 minute drive.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Anyone who loves a good pub classic with no frills. MAMILs, dog-walkers or country day-out-ers will be wowed by the verdant views. And it’s perfect for big family groups looking for a menu that’ll please everyone.
Not for: Those looking for fancy fine dining, super-slick decor or a glam vibe. It’s not a get-dressed-up girls’ night out kind of place, for example. This is a trad country pub through and through, and you’ll be sharing the space with plenty of locals propping up the bar. And if you’re on a diet, forget about it – these are truly stomach-lining portions.
£££: Excellently priced, considering the quality of the food. Starters come in at around £6 a pop, and mains are all under £15 with the exception of the steak, which costs £22.50. Desserts vary depending on the ever-changing menu, but three scoops of ice cream cost a fiver. The children’s menu, which includes a main and one scoop of ice-cream, costs £6.50.
The Full Moon, Cholesbury Lane, Hawridge, Bucks HP5 2UH. Tel: 01494 758959