Friday, 18 March 2016

the white horse inn, duns tew, oxfordshire.


Found in The Cotswolds village of Duns Tew, The White Horse Inn is a charming pub and restaurant with eight refurbished en suite rooms. Dating back to the 17th Century, the Oxfordshire establishment features the recognisable amber Cotswolds brick surrounded by leafy countryside. Despite being around a 25 minute drive from Oxford city centre, Duns Tew is a peaceful place where you're more likely to hear the steady sounds of horse hooves and farm traffic than cars.


Outside, the stableyard has been converted into contemporary double bedrooms for travellers. The decor is modern, with homely heritage inspired touches such as check cushions, reclaimed furniture and a sage green finish. Inside the pub, you're met with a crackling fire, low beams and exposed brickwork. Certainly a welcoming start to your meal or stay.


We stayed in one of their Double Deluxe Ensuite rooms, which start at £79 a night. These can be found above the restaurant, with a patio seating area which would be lovely in Summer for drinks and al fresco dining. 


Within the room you'll find the usual hot drink facilities and bottled water, as well as a flat screen TV and modern bath and shower. We didn't really make use of these as we indulged in drinks by the fire and took our time in the restaurant, but it was the perfect base for enjoying the evening. On this occasion they had forgotten to put towels in the room, which I thought was worth mentioning since upon ringing they brought a stack of fresh towels up within about 5 minutes flat.


The restaurant continues the welcoming vibe with a well stocked bar (of course), well-loved furniture and mellow lighting. The menu changes almost daily, with a few firm favourites which stay put, to reflect the season and local ingredients.


Speaking of firm favourites, we were told that regulars are totally into their Korean Style Chicken Wings, which come as a main or starter (£7.50/14.00). Not the first dish that springs to mind when you think of a rural Oxfordshire restaurant. Assured these were a big hit, my partner went ahead and had these for starter. He was not disappointed; unashamedly requesting a spoon to finish off the tangy, sweet and spicy Gochujang sauce. Afterwards the chef and co-owner Michael was happy to share his secret recipe in a battered old notebook - something which I'll definitely be recreating.


For my starter I went for Pork Rillettes (£7.00), something even as a foodie I had to quickly look up. Rillettes is a French dish similar to pâté which is often made with pork belly. Very indulgent and chunky with an enhanced freshness from the juniper berries and parsley.

For my main I went for something I wouldn't usually order out; Salmon Fillet with Mediterranean Cous Cous and Spinach (£14.00). I adore salmon but just wouldn't usually order it since I make it myself at least once a week. So it was nice to have someone else cook it perfectly for me, with a soft flakiness met with crispy skin. As expected the cous cous went really well with it, and it left me satisfied but not too full for dessert.


Not one to usually have a chicken starter followed by a chicken main, this dish tempted him into this very faux pas. This Flat Iron Chicken (£12.50) had been de-boned, rolled and seasoned perfectly, then served with homemade chips and fresh garlic and saffron aioli. Another well received main course.

For desserts we went for Rhubarb and Apple Crumble and the Dark Chocolate Truffle with Salted Caramel Sauce (both £6.50). Can you guess which is mine? I'm really not a fan of hot fruit desserts so Sam jumped at the chance to try this. I had a bit of crumble, which to me was buttery and delicious. He said that the crumble was tasty, but nothing to shout about.


I somehow steered from the usual STP (Sticky Toffee Pudding) in favour of this highly recommended dark chocolate delicacy. My, it was decadent. By just the look of Sam's face he knew he'd picked the wrong dessert this time. I lucked out with a melt-in-the-mouth bitter-sweet dessert, likened to Bournville chocolate but with a super sweet kick of caramel. We finished the meal with an espresso and courvoisier on the recommendation from the helpful waiter. I'm not sure I liked the taste as much as I was in love with the crockery (gorgeous isn't it?) but Sam thoroughly enjoyed this nightcap.


After a good night's sleep, it was soon time for breakfast. As the only ones staying that night, we planned ahead to have breakfast at 9am. Rather than a buffet breakfast, you can mix and match from the menu and have things cooked to order - a big thumbs up in my book. This just makes so much more sense to me for a small venue and gives a personal touch too. I gave instructions of "umm... smoked salmon, runny poached eggs and... can it be on some form of bread?" I was presented with this lovely plate, which was exactly what I had in my head.


I enjoyed a latte and fresh orange juice alongside whilst Sam feasted on the bacon and egg sandwich of dreams.

 

In all, The White Horse Inn is a lovely place full of charm. It would be great for a quiet weekend getaway and a taste of The Cotswolds, or perhaps if you want somewhere to stay on the way to Oxford. A genuine and welcoming hotel and restaurant, with a warm atmosphere and great quality grub.

Have you visited The Cotswolds or perhaps even The White Horse Inn yourself lately? I'd love to hear your favourite places or travel tips!

Daisy Hill
Duns Tew
OX25 6JS

Our stay and dinner was complimentary. All photographs, words and opinions my own.

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