This time next week The Waggon & Horses pub in Southmoor should have reopened its illustrious 18th century doors as a steakhouse, ready to welcome villagers, locals and food lovers alike.
It is the brainchild of the amazing team at The Black Horse in Standlake, taken over by Nick Evans and his son Seb recently and transformed into a gastro pub with a heart (and one of our favourites).
News that Nick and the team has now taken over The Waggon & Horses in Southmoor, neat Abingdon, is therefore excellent news, especially as Martin Sherriff will be executive chef at both premises.
Work is currently undergoing to transform what was a fairly tired village boozer into a gleaming new 60 seater steakhouse complete with a bar for the locals, which is really exciting, considering the property also boasts a huge beer garden at the back.
“It was significantly under invested but it’s such a great space with a really historic feel and a massive garden so we are really excited about its potential.”
And the site has such extraordinary potential; for a start there is a huge bar area with a blazing fire, leading through to a snug and then a lofty, light dining room which must have been the hayloft, the wagon wheels still in evidence, leading out into the garden.
In time Nick and the team hope to add an orangery out the back and redo the tiny kitchen, but for now they are refurbing the existing premises enormously tastefully.
So why Southmoor? “I’ve had my eye on this premises for a while now and there is a lack of good pubs around here,”
So why steaks? “Because there is nothing like that around here and we wanted to open something completely different to The Black Horse because they are quite close to each other.
As for opening up during a pandemic, Nick is relatively unphased. “The locals have been really excited about what we want to achieve here and we can’t wait to be able to welcome them here for a decent meal.”
Food-wise, Martin has bought in a massive chargrill oven with maximum flavour and five steaks to choose from from a tomahawk to rum steaks and chateaubriand, with all the trimmings from truffle fries to a good sauce Diane. Plus, you can add on extras such as scallops or lobster for the whole turf & surf thing, so you can have as much or as little as you want.
They will also be serving fish and vegetarian dishes, Sunday roasts and will use local producers and suppliers wherever possible.
In time Martin wants to display the steaks in the restaurant and allow his customers to choose them by weight or size, but for now is keeping things simple with a straight forward menu.
Chef Ben Hardy will run the kitchens in The Black Horse while Martin oversees the opening of the Waggon and Horses. “It’s going to be a busy few months,” he concedes.
Confident in their new enterprise, Nick added: “They are exciting times. It’s what the area has been crying our for, so we are confident in our product and what we will be bringing to Southmoor. It is really important to have a good village pub and I don’t wang to let the pandemic spoil everything.”