Review: The Bull and Butcher, Turville
Whilst getting piddled on my sunlounger in Ibiza last month I had the uncomfortable feeling I’d forgotten to do something for work, and then it hit me – I was due to review The Bull & Butcher pub in Turville. Fortunately for Muddy, my friend and fellow journo is none other than Thame resident Kerry Potter, a truly brilliant writer (*sniff*) who is not only Contributing Editor at Elle and Books Editor of Grazia, but also regular writer for The Pool, The Times and more glossies than you can shake a stick at. I wouldn’t hand over a food review to anyone less deserving, but trust me, you’re in safe hands on this one.
Review: The Bull & Butcher pub, Turville (mid Bucks) by Kerry Potter
There were a lot of American tourists at the Bull & Butcher in Turville the weekday lunchtime I visited with my husband Rich. I’m presuming they weren’t there to catch a glimpse of celebrity local drinker Timmy Mallett, rather in search of the quintessentially English idyllic countryside vibes – and to make a pilgrimage to the windmill perched on a hill above the village, which featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The village is, in the words of Derek Zoolander, really, really ridiculously good-looking; a teeny cluster of rose-covered cottages surrounded by rolling fields and dense woodland. Accordingly, Turville has an illustrious post-Chitty CV, with The Vicar Of Dibley, Morse, Carey Mulligan-starring movie An Education, various music videos and Midsomer Murders all shot on location here (although is there anywhere around here where the latter hasn’t been filmed?!)
The pub, a 16th century coaching inn, scrubs up well too, with its pretty, spacious beer garden, with bloom-laden hanging baskets and pots dotted all around. Inside, it’s cosy and rustic, with low-slung beams, open fires, exposed brickwork, leather bar stools and wooden tables. There are two rooms you can eat in – the main bar, which was packed with a good mix of tourists and locals on the Friday we visited, and the quieter back room that has a view of the windmill.
We sat at the ‘well table’ – it’s built around a well that predates the pub and you can peer down, past the glass table top, to the murky depths below. It’s the kind of quirky feature my children would find fascinating, and sitting there makes for a sociable experience as other customers come over to have a gander and a chat. Also keen on a chat is the gregarious manager James – he and his staff provide brilliantly friendly, efficient, helpful service.
The food is no-nonsense pub grub, served in generous portions. While the menu doesn’t feature the kind of dishes that’ll be artfully filtered on hipster foodies’ Instagram accounts any time soon, it’s perfectly serviceable and there’s nothing that’ll scare the horses/ children. I had fish, chips and mushy peas and Rich went for pork and leek sausages with mustard mash and onion gravy. For dessert, he devoured the rhubarb and white chocolate cheesecake, while I scoffed an enormous bowl of excellent homemade apple and strawberry crumble with custard.
Approximately 8,000 calories later, it was definitely time for a walk. James showed us the public footpath just opposite the pub, which leads up Cobstone Hill to the famous windmill.
We duly set off for a stroll… well, I say a stroll, it’s actually more of a steep hike, especially near the top. You won’t make it with a pushchair or small whiny children, and my shoes that day definitely weren’t made for this kind of walking – next time I’ll ditch the strappy sandals for trainers.
It takes about 15 minutes to reach the summit, with the path winding through kissing gates and past clover fields dotted with sheep. You can’t get very near the windmill itself – it’s privately owned – but the bucolic views down to Turville and across the valley are definitely worth the uphill puffing and panting.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: My husband bookmarked the beer garden as a scenic pitstop for his weekend escape-the-kids sessions, er, sorry, that should’ve read ‘bike rides’ – fellow MAMILs take note. And it’s a nice spot if you need sustenance before/after a family walk.
Not for: Design snobs or hardcore gourmets. It’s an old-fashioned country inn serving pub grub.
£££: The high end of reasonable. Mains are around £13, starters and desserts around £6. Kids’ menu of main course and ice cream is £7.95.
The Bull & Butcher, Turville, Henley, RG9 6QU. Tel: 01491 638 283. thebullandbutcher.com