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Review: The Blue Boar, Witney

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I was over in Witney to review a school the other week (a very good one actually, but more of that another time) so popped in for a spot of lunch at The Blue Boar on my way back, by way of, ahem, recharging the Muddy batteries.

I’m a big fan of Witney in general – I like the feel of the town with its wide main street and masses of indie shops – but it’s surprising, given its size and affluence, that there aren’t a better range of eateries locally. Not that the The Blue Boar is complaining though, because along with The Fleece at the top end of the town, it’s very much the go-to gastropub in the town.

From the high street, The Blue Boar not a particularly stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks frontage from the road, but inside is a different matter – it ticks all those tasteful leather sofa, exposed brickwork and shiny metal bar that is so trendy right now.

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The pub restaurant itself owes a debt to the Sixties styling with its curved banquettes and low back chairs (which I love), along with the now de rigueur open kitchen area and industrial style lighting. It manages to work as a decent working lunch venue whilst also being cosy enough (particularly on the banquettes) for girly lunches or family get togethers.

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I started with fried calamari £5.95), followed by whole lemon sole with a chorizo and prawn on crab and fennel risotto, £13.95 – both delicious (though, small gripe, maybe the lemon sole could have been more attractively presented), with generous portion sizes.

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Service was really great – efficient, polite, and thankfully not overly familiar which if you read Muddy regularly you’ll know is my bugbear. Being a hardened old Fleet Street hack with no heart (removed by Janet Street Porter in the late Nineties without anaesthetic), I’m not a big one for cosy aphorisms, so the chalkboard (below) didn’t work its magic on me

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…. but I think it shows that The Blue Boar knows its market is very female and family friendly, and understands the importance of being down to earth and approachable, both of which are big ticks for Muddy Stilettos.

I didn’t have time (or room) for dessert, so I had a quick nosey out the back where there’s a small but decent outdoor seating area and also a 100-people function room…

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… and then it was into the Muddymobile and hammering it back for the school run, about 7lbs heavier than when I arrived.

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

Good for: Casual diners, business lunchers, girly get-togethers, families looking for a good burger for lunch or early dinner. There’s a gluten free menu for those who need it and also breakfast and bar menus, so they have most bases covered! There are also 20 attractive bedrooms with wifi, ipod docking stations etc , so it would be a good option for a larger get-together.

Not for: Anyone looking for country vistas or proper beer gardens – the courtyard is paved at the back of the pub. Parking can be a bit troublesome so if mobility is a problem you might have to get dropped off at the door. Serious foodies might be a bit sniffy – this is good quality gastropub fare, but don’t expect it to nudge a Michelin star.

£££: Mid range. Starters around £6-9, most mains £11-13, with a sirloin at £19.95 and fillet £25.95.

The Blue Boar, 28 Market Square, Witney OX28 6BH. Tel: 01993 776353.  blueboarwitney.co.uk

 

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