I had high expectations. Hendrik Dutson-Steinfeld comes with an impressive pedigree, a huge passion for food and a point to prove. He left The White Horse in Kings Sutton a few months ago to set up on his own at The Duck On The Pond in South Newington with his wife Julie, and the stakes were high. read about it here
But nothing had prepared me for how high they were, or how ambitious Hendrik set out to be in terms of pushing the boat out, and we were mightily impressed by what he’s achieved when we popped in for dinner.
Hendrik Dutson-Steinfeld comes with an impressive pedigree, a huge passion for food and a point to prove
Genteel and smart but countrified, the interior is relaxing – the village pub lit up beautifully, beckoning you inside. A quick drink at the bar, a table in the corner, the excellent Victoria looking after us, would we like the a la carte or the taster menu?
I don’t know. I hadn’t one tried since the Nut Tree (read the review here) But what better way to showcase Hendrik’s food? 11 courses for £65 (12 with cheese)!
Hendrik’s seasonal, local and sustainable credentials are impeccable
And so the die was cast. 12 courses it was, and they began rolling out almost immediately – pickled quail eggs in onion ash served in a birds nest, the tiny eggs, pickled yes but not too acidic or vinegary, the ash made from onion skins, which had a lovely bitter sweetness.
The a ramekin (10/10 for the serving dishes and variety of ceramics) of homemade cottage cheese with beetroot, vinegar and honey from Forge Farm (Hendrik’s seasonal, local and sustainable credentials are impeccable).
Some of us hadn’t tried cottage cheese for years, didn’t like beetroot, but here we were with a tiny pottery bowl of almost garlicky cottage cheese offset by the dark, earthy richness of the beetroot. Strange but interesting, taking us out of our comfort zones, while introducing us to new food combinations.
The bread and butter took us back to a safer place, and so delicious we almost groaned. The butter is made in-house and we had to order more, the bread crusty and warm.
the beer and cheddar soup was seriously the best thing I’ve eaten this year. Absolutely sensational in terms of depth of flavour
It also provided the perfect accompaniment to the beer and cheddar soup which was seriously the best thing I’ve eaten this year. Absolutely sensational in terms of depth of flavour and yet wonderfully humble and unpretentious.
The Waldorf salad was equally as successful, knobbly bits of Oxford blue, local warm pears, celery tops from Wykham Farm and a walnut dressing that had us cooing like doves. Piquant, textured, fresh, balanced, for something so simple it was truly accomplished.
The dishes kept flowing – the highly memorable Hampshire chalk stream trout with pickled cucumber, cultured home-made sour cream and watercress which was dainty, impeccable and Nordic.
Then Cotswold grains and Moreton Farm mushrooms (a risotto with a bite), some sensational and beautifully cooked duck with carrots and sorrel, the gravy poured on by none other than Hendrik himself.
Was it a culinary adventure of epic proportions? Absolutely. Did I need to go for a very long run the next day? Sadly yes
And then the desserts began arriving – a hay and honey custard, beautifully simple with a light comforting taste and then something more indulgent; whipped chocolate with dark rye crumble and toasted rye ice cream, the crumble was slightly bulky and uncrisp…..
The cheese plate (optional) from Nettlebed Creamery (which is flying at the moment, read about their contribution at Five little Pigs in Wallingford here), showcased Witheridge in Hay and Rollright, both delectable and served with chutney and fruit bread (after so much food crackers might have been more appropriate),
And then, just when our waistbands were actually groaning, the chocolates with rosemary which melted as they hit the tongue.
Seriously impressive! Did we need to eat that much? Possible not. Did it take time? Yes. Was it a culinary adventure of epic proportions? Absolutely. Did I need to go for a very long run the next day? Sadly yes. Was it worth it? Without a shadow of a doubt.
this won’t be the last you hear of The Duck on the Pond, not by a long way
So yes, Hendrik has hit the ground running and is Oxfordshire’s new contender. So just remember you heard about it at oxinabox.co.uk because this won’t be the last you hear of The Duck on the Pond, not by a long way.
The Duck on the Pond is at South Newington. Oxfordshire. OX15 4JE. https://www.theduckonthepond.co.uk