One thing that Gloucestershire definitely has going for it is an abundance of really great pubs. When David’s parents were visiting recently we decided to take the short (but scenic) drive to the village of Bourton-on-the-Hill to have lunch at The Horse and Groom. A traditional country inn, The Horse and Groom has won many awards over the years, the most recent being The Good Pub Guide Pub of the Year, and the Gloucestershire Dining Pub of the Year for 2016. Quite the accolades.
The atmosphere was very relaxed, as busy as you would expect for a weekend lunchtime but not overcrowded. The menu changes very regularly so instead of printed menus, it is written up on a large chalkboard and you order at the bar.
For a starter I had the feta, roast sweet potato, spinach and caramelised red onion salad with a chilli and lemon dressing. Oh my, this was just glorious! Really delicious and the portion size was good for a starter. I totally could have eaten three of these and been happy though.
David and his dad both had the Tamworth pork and chicken croquettes with piccalilli and rocket salad. This was also beautiful, the croquettes were packed with flavour and a really good texture.
For main I had the bunless griddled Dexter beef burger with red onion marmalade and horseradish mayo.
David had the griddled Longhorn ribeye steak with a garlic, shallot and parsley butter. (Couldn’t wait for me to take a photo before digging in!)
Chris went for the pan-fried Middlewhite pork chop, roasted fennel, bacon pangrattato and a green sauce.
Trish had the roast fillet of hake with curried leeks and steamed mussels.
We also got sides of chips, dauphinoise potatoes and veg. Some of the dishes come with potatoes while with others you do have to order them separately.
Overall, all of the food was great. We did wait a long time between the starter and the main being served (and the dining area was getting busier and busier in the interim), but we did forgive them for it pretty quickly. Everything was very well cooked, David’s steak was medium-rare as he likes it, and the dishes were all well-balanced flavour-wise. And, as you can see, there is something for everyone on the menu.
Of course, we had to have desserts! Trish had Granny G’s toffee meringue which came with whipped cream.
David had the apple and blackberry flapjack crumble with vanilla ice cream.
And I had the pecan and maple syrup tart with Jersey cream.
Again, all delicious. My tart was super, super sweet (as I like it) with a good short crust pastry and absolutely loads of nuts. Nothing worse than too few nuts. David’s crumble was a lovely seasonal pudding and the flapjack topping put a bit of a twist on the traditional dish. Lastly, Trish said of Granny G’s meringue, and I quote: “That was the best dessert I’ve ever had”. High praise indeed! I tried a bit, and she’s right, the ratio of cream to meringue to sauce was perfect. Kudos to Granny G.
I think this dish sums up The Horse and Groom. It’s a family business with impeccably high standards, but retains its charm. It’s definitely worth the trip through the Cotswolds (which is hardly a hardship anyway). I love the seasonal menu and the focus on local produce and I’m excited to see what’s on at other times of the year. As long as it still includes Granny G’s dessert that is!
As always, if you have any recommendations for places in the Gloucestershire area (or Bristol or Birmingham), please do leave them in the comments.