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Michelin marvel

A Spring spruce-up for this handsome Bucks pub with food that's almost too pretty to eat. I said ALMOST.

It was back in Sept 2016 that I last reviewed The Three Oaks in Chalfont St Peter – flip me, time flies! With an interior revamp just completed, a fresh lick of paint, updated upholstery and a menu refresh throughout Spring, Muddy’s Sophie Hadjikyriacos does the decent thing and tries it out.

THE LOCATION

For those who like their pubs smartly attired but slightly off the beaten track, this one is for you. The stiffly handsome Three Oaks in Chalfont St Peter, is part of the small independent group of pubs that includes The White Oak in Cookham and No5 in Beaconsfield. Its superior food offering has seen it awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand every year since 2014 – no surprise perhaps, when chef Mikey Seferynski’s past CV includes The Hand & Flowers, The Grove and The Fat Duck.

THE VIBE

On a busy Sunday lunchtime, the pub was packed with couples, groups of friends and grown-up families so it felt pleasingly buzzy in a grown-up, refined kind of way. With a capacity for 80 guests the layout is spacious with tables given plenty of breathing space, and the interior hits the safe side of mainstream with its traditional wall lights and window blinds and tasteful mixy matchy upholstery and wooden tables. It’s the kind of place you’d take your parents for lunch, or an extended family, or indeed your friendly local celebrity –  Tess Daly, Vernon Kay and Lord of the Rings‘ director Peter Jackson (apparently a regular – who knew?) have all eaten here.
three oaks dining space decor chairs tables lighting

It was too parky to venture outside on the day I visited – come on, it’s still freezing! – but the enclosed paved garden would make a pretty spot for al fresco dining come summer and there are rumours of live music out there too so watch this space (or just keep reading Muddy – we’ll let you know).

SQUAFF & QUAFF

There’s no doubt that the high quality gastro offering is the major calling card at this pub that bridges the gap between normal gastro pub fare and fine dining.

Everything is plated to perfection. Just check out my starter, a crispy baby squid with red wine mayonnaise, pickled turnip and beef bresaola. It tasted as beautiful as it looks – the sharpness of the turnip cut through the rich mayo and the squid was exquisite.

My mum had the duck liver parfait accompanied by pink peppercorns, homemade hazelnut loaf and spiced beetroot chutney. It was elegantly light and offered something different with every mouthful, although she said she could have done with a bit more bread to finish the parfait.

The main event was Cornish cod, roasted celeriac, charred apple puree and crispy capers. The dish really packed a punch as the beautiful piece of fish was crisp, giving it a smoky depth that complemented the sweet juices.

Room for dessert? Yup! Go for the cinnamon-infused panna cotta, it’s something else. Maybe it was the apple and calvados pie on the side, topped with a quenelle (google it!) of apple sorbet and a biscuit crumb but I absolutely wolfed it down.

OUT & ABOUT

You can work up an appetite with a long walk around Austenwood Common (directly on the other side of the road from the pub), or head five minutes down the road to Gerrard’s Cross Wood – both good places to walk your dog though your four legged friend will have to remain in the garden if you’re eating in the restaurant. Milton’s Cottage is a few miles away in Chalfont St Giles, and for kids Beconskot Model Village and Chiltern Open Air Museum are also highly accessible. There’s a high street of shops in Gerrard’s Cross, but for a wider range of boutiques and independent shops head to Amersham or Beaconsfield.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Large parties, Sunday lunchers, impressing the in-laws, proper foodies, and families (there’s a special kids menu). Anyone dropping in on a Monday – it’s 25% off all the dry-aged highland beef steaks with free BYO.

Not for: Design-mavens might find the interiors a bit predictable. Anyone who think they’ll rock up at the bar and order some pork scratchings or a packet of cheese and onion – it’s more restaurant than pub at heart. The road side position won’t please all though you are pleasantly cosseted inside the pub and in the back patio/garden.

The damage: Good value given the quality of the offering – the set menus in particular are a total steal with the two course set lunch £15 and three courses £19 A la carte starters go from £5.50 for soup to £8.90 for cornish crab on toast. Mains start at £10.90 for a pulled pork burger up to a ribeye steak for £24.50.

The Three Oaks, Austenwood Ln, Chalfont St Peter, Gerrards Cross SL9 8NL. Tel: 01753 899016. thethreeoaksgx.co.uk

Words: Sophie Hadjikyriacos

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