The Chequers, Fingest
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So we’re back at work again. Bloody Nora, how does the week come around so quickly?
If you fancy something to look forward to on the weekend, you could do worse than head to The Chequers in Fingest (near High Wycombe/Henley – see the map) for Sunday lunch. I went with friends a few weeks back and had a really lovely time here.
It’s owned by the guys who used to run The Fox & Hounds in Christmas Common, so they know a thing or two about gastropubs, and it’s been kitted out attractively – nothing too outrageous for rural Bucks, but with more individual touches than the usual stripped oak and flagstone floors that are so predictable these days. So for example, there’s a large Victorian-style rocking horse for kids (below), hodgepodge furniture, and some nice interior touches like the entrance to the kitchen (below).
There’s also a large garden, perfect for throwing older kids into if they’ve got to the mashed potato-flicking stage. You’d have to be a bit more careful with younger children (under 5s) as the carpark is right at the back and the garden isn’t fully enclosed. There’s nothing to ‘hold’ them in the garden either – no swings or slides etc.
Anyway, to lunch. It was excellent. I’d pigged out on a full English breakfast that morning so I opted for the sole with a fab lemon and caper butter sauce, which was cooked perfectly while my friends went for the Sunday roast. Portions are generous – when you’re spending double digits on your meal, you need to know that! All the kids ate fish and chips, though I’ve an inkling that they could have had kids portions of the main meals (sorry, I wasn’t concentrating at this point in proceedings).
Service was slow in places (it was really busy the day we ate) but there was always an apology and update. It didn’t spoil the lunch in any way.
If you book a table, park early and take a walk to the lovely Grade 1 listed St Bartholomews Church in the village (below). The huge western Norman tower was built early in the 12th century and has unusual twin gables – only one other similar construction exists in the country.
If you can’t get into The Chequers, The Bull & Butcher in the picture-postcard next door village of Turville (used as the backdrop for The Vicar of Dibley) is another popular option or go the next village south to Skirmett, where The Frog is an award-winning inn though I’m yet to make it there myself.
The three villages form a gorgeous rural triangle and there are loads of walks you can take between them, from a mild walk in Fingest wood to stretch your legs before you load up for lunch, to a 14 mile appetite digger.
Best for: groups of friends or families who can enjoy the relaxed, unpretentious surroundings. The large garden is a bonus for kids.
Not for: Parents not in the mood to supervise outside. Young children will need an eye on them in the garden and few tables overlook the area.
£££: Middle-price gastropub fare, around £11-20 for a main course. If you do insist on three courses and a bottle of wine, make savings in sensible places and feed the kids crisps instead.