Muddy eats: The Kingham Plough, Kingham (Oxon)
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It’s not often I can be coaxed out of the house on a freezing winter’s morning to watch my son play rugby, but it’s amazing what the prospect of a nice lunch will do.
Mini Muddy happened to be playing rugby in Chipping Norton just before Christmas (as was David Cameron’s son as it happened – the PM was down on the touchline watching the game), and it seemed a great opportunity to have a lovely family lunch out.
The Kingham Plough won the Muddy Stilettos Country pub award last year, so it was a dead cert for a good lunch, and it didn’t disappoint.
Regrettably we didn’t attempt a walk, as we were literally just in time for our booking and Finn looked like he might faint from hunger. But Kingham has previously been voted ‘England’s Favourite Village’ by Country Life magazine (2006) so it must have quite significant charms. Certainly there’s a fine a Norman church, below…
But back to the pub. The Kingham Plough is attractive, as you’d expect, in that flat-fronted, honey-stoned Georgian kind of way that proliferates in the area. Inside, it’s pleasingly quirky and idiosyncratic, without trying too hard. A pig in front of a hearth, of course. A milk dispenser in the courtyard. Old food recipes adorning the walls in the toilet for a spot of light reading if you’re finding the company at your table laborious.
There’s an outside courtyard bit that I wouldn’t particularly write home about, but a lovely cosy, ‘pubby’ feel inside that comes from the higgledy-piggledy rooms, generous lashings of wooden furniture and slubby colour scheme. It’s not massively cool, nor is it twee, it kind of hits the comfort spot in the middle.
We arrived with three very cold, hungry children who weren’t quite on best behaviour *sigh*, but the Kingham Plough is very child-friendly – kid-portions were dispensed, extra forks found to replace those dropped on the floor, and generally the whole thing was very pleasant from beginning to end.
Near starvation meant emergency bread rations to begin…
…. before the main attraction arrived. Road beef and a Yorkshire pud the size of a long-range missile.
It took some eating but the Muddys are nothing if not determined when it comes to a Sunday lunch with all the trimmings. The adults were too stuffed to eat anything for dessert, but the kids all had ice-cream. They could barely stand after that endurance test, and had to be rolled out to the car.
Of course no Muddy review is complete without a stern appraisal of the rest rooms. You’ll have to excuse the clothes, this is my ‘I don’t care how crap I look, I’m bloody freezing’ casual wear.
The Muddy verdict:
Good for: families (they are welcomed on the website, though littlies may be encouraged into the more informal bar area); walkers looking for a picturesque village for a pitstop; informal foodies after leisurely gastronomic pleasures.
Not for: staunchly urban trendies (who may prefer to check out The Wild Rabbit down the road) , or those wishing to make flamboyant romantic gestures. In the Summer, the outdoor space near to the parking won’t quite cut it.
£££: On the more expensive side of gastropub, with entrees around £9-10, mains hovering mostly around £18-19 and desserts £5-8. On the day we visited though, it felt worth the money.
The Kingham Plough, The Green, Kingham, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 6YD. Tel: 01608 658327. www.thekinghamplough.co.uk