Muddy eats: The Angel at Burford
Burford is one of those gorgeous Cotswold towns where you can spend hours gawping at the beauty of every shop and house you pass. Historically and aesthetically it’s stunning, but the flipside is that, certainly on the high street, many of the eating options cater to the tourist trade. So let’s take you off that thoroughfare by a few minutes, pop you in the huge free carpark next to Burford’s beautiful church – an absolute corker as you can see….
… and walk you up to The Angel at Burford, a gorgeous 16th century pub with three bedrooms on Witney St that really punches above its weight on the food front.
The feeling is very strongly ‘pub’ here so don’t come through the door expecting formal dining. There’s a cosy bar to the left, with log fire and comfy seating – not flash and the bar is heavily wooden and quite old-fashioned but I rather liked it…
… and then there’s a ‘restaurant’ area to the right and to the back.
Being a 500 year old pub, it’s not big on natural light so there’s an immediate atmosphere created, and the small internal space also helps out. The day I reviewed the eating area was busy, which was quite an achievement with scaffolding on the exterior for re-roofing (now completed btw).
The food has an AA rosette which is all to the good, and it’s no surprise given that the landlord Terence has a CV that includes The Chequers in Churchill, The Feathered Nest in Nether Westcote and The Fox Inn in Lower Oddington. But what I liked about The Angel is that it’s a bit more authentically ‘pubby’ than these places, and it offers food for bar-snackers through to evening diners – so you can have a £7.50 risotto of the day and a £12.50 fish and chips or burger, through to a still very good value sea bass at £16.50 and an 8oz sirloin for £22.
My mum and I were put at the back table. No need to strut over in your black singlet and explain that no-one puts Muddy in the corner, partly because I refuse to try that lift when I’m not in the lake, and partly because I like to people watch, and the corner’s the best place for that. Bad for photos though, as it was pretty dark, so excuse the yellow hues. You’ll at least get the idea of the quality of food, that started with a fantastic Asian chicken and sesame seed salad and moved onto prawn skewers. Absolutely delicious.
My mum went for the chicken and leek pie and totally raved about it, and this is a woman who, as my usual plus one, has become a food expert in her own right.
Dessert was piggy – a treacle tart with cream, cranberries and a pretty edible flower because as you know, I’m all about health and clean eating.
The three bedrooms have all been recently refurbed so if you were thinking of an overnighter, this would be a lovely, good value option as the rooms start at £110 in the week and £130 at weekends.
It’s also worth knowing that there’s a sweet garden out the back – not much use at the moment but come spring and summer it will come into its own.
I’m often a bit overwhelmed by the idea of going to the Cotswolds for a break, because it’s an area so rich in history, architecture, gastropubs on every corner that it almost paralyses you with choice. Burford is a great starting point, not only because it’s close (on the Oxon side of the border) but also it’s quite a big town, so there’s plenty to do here.
Highlights if this pub and area take your fancy include St John the Baptist Church, which was built in around 1175 (seriously stunning – don’t miss it) and The Tolsey museum. Shopwise, it’s low on funk and high on antiques but you’ll happily meander down the hill for a few hours and you can always hop into the car to Buscot Park in Faringdon, Chipping Norton, Chastleton House or the Cotwold Wildlife Park if you’re thinking of making a short break of it.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Relaxed diners, groups of friends, drop-in thirsty types wanting a pint and nibbles, those wanting a good value quality place to eat and rest their heads in the self-styled ‘gateway to the Cotswolds’.
Not for: fine diners, or those wanting a more ‘starchy’ restaurant experience. Even by gastropub standards, this place has a warm, informal feeling. Those with very young children might want to think twice over winter months – the interior is cosy and wailers in buggies won’t be appreciated by fellow diners.
££: Very reasonable. I like the different menus, from bar snacks to pub food and onto dinner. Sunday lunches sound like a particular bargain – £15 with all the trimmings!