It was a warm summer Sunday (rare I know) and the sun was out, where to go for lunch? Somewhere with stunning views, a great menu and a relaxed vibe.
Cue The Abingdon Arms in Beckley, which ticks all of those boxes and more.
Firstly, their Sunday lunch menu is really enticing. Secondly, it has a variety of shaded areas, all with the same stunning vista overlooking Otmoor and beyond with two layers of terracing, and thirdly, it’s a community pub.
An easy choice then, and with news of a new head chef on board, we were keen to try out Elena Alexandru‘s take on country pub cooking.
Turns out Elena has a delicate and innovative touch, reinventing classics such as brie in filo (£8.50), by serving it piping hot on a filo square, adorned with tiny squares of pear, walnuts and doused in honey. Delicious.
The gazpacho (£7.25) was as much of a surprise – rich with tomatoes and peppers, crunchy with croutons but not too acidic, the perfect chiller on such a hot day, it really hit the spot.
There was lots of alternatives mind, from pork loin and lemon and rosemary chicken to halloumi, cod and seabream but we went for roast beef (£22.95) all round.
The service is friendly and efficient, and soon long oblong plates of perfectly pink beef were heading towards us, accompanied by a lovely, creamy, al dente cauliflower cheese, some wonderful roast potatoes, a rich gravy, tiny diced parsnips, cubed beetroot and a huge Yorkshire pud teetering on the side.
The star of the show was the beef – tender, juicy, generous and flavoursome. Indeed, only the beetroot divided the crowd, but in terms of seasonality and sustainability hits the right note.
We also tried the cashew nut Sri Lankan curry with coconut rice (£16.95) which was vibrant and rich in spices and textures, and just as filling as the roasts.
The pud – nothing too rich – the baked vanilla cheesecake with a berry coulis (£7.50) which went down a treat, and the apple pie and vanilla custard which was less of a success – a strange hybrid between a cake and a pie without the crispy pastry you’d hope for.
The coffees were good, the staff excellent, and the food really hit the spot.
So let’s hope for an Indian summer, but come winter, you can retire into The Abingdon Arms’ historic interior and eat in the bar or the dining room with as much enjoyment.
The Abingdon Arms, Beckley, https://www.theabingdonarms.co.uk