The Plough in West Hanney has been given a new lease of life by landlords Matthew Hough and his partner Ivone who took it over during lockdown and are now doing a roaring trade.
Matt has worked in some of the UK’s greatest restaurants including Petrus, Chez Bruce, Hedone and Hibiscus, but in September last year, decided to open his first business with Ivone.
Having decided it was time for a change, and having always dreamed of running their own pub, Matt and Ivone began scouring the land for a suitable countryside premises.
To meet their criteria, their dream pub needed to be a listed building with a thatched roof and a country village location. So when they finally came across community pub The Plough in West Hanney it ticked all the boxes.
The freehouse pub was bought by the community in 2019 but had been looking for new landlords to take it over.
“The Plough was exactly what we wanted,” Matt explains. “The village has only got 350 people but everyone has been massively supportive and people visit from much further afield.”
Taking over seven months ago in September last year, Matt says it was “tough” to be locked down again so soon after opening, but immediately started up a takeaway service five days a week, so they still broke even.
The small pub has a nice, big beer garden, and when we visited for lunch on Friday the locals looked absolutely delighted that their local hostelry was back in action.
But as staffing is an issue, Matt and Ivone are keen to keep things simple while they find their feet.
So, with Ivone in the kitchen, (an Italian from Brazil), the pair have started off with a simple menu of three starters, five mains and three puds.
Fish is the pub’s forte, with fresh produce brought down from Cornwall every morning – the Irish mussels cooked in white wine with sourdough looked delicious as did the day boat haddock, double cooked chips and peas, which were going down a treat.
“We don’t want to have anything left at the end of the day,” Matt tells me, “and we are full this weekend, so it’s working.”
It was a Friday lunch time when we arrived and kicked off with a glass of light, cold, dry rose and the crisp and lightly battered king prawn tempura with mustard mayonnaise (£10). We followed this with the 255g ribeye with ratte potatoes (like new potatoes but thinner and longer), summer vegetables and Hollandaise (£24.95), as well as a plate of the saffron risotto with mushrooms, peas and parmesan (£12.50). (see above)
The risotto was creamy with just the right bite, and the steak unelaborate but well cooked. Perhaps a few more veggie options would be advisable?
Stuffed to the brim we shared some Cheddar Strawberries and ice cream (£8) before soaking up the last rays and winding our way back out of the picturesque village and it’s newly revamped pub.
Another Oxfordshire village inn brought back to life. West Hanney must be delighted!
For more details go to https://theploughatwesthanney.co.uk