It’s been a rocky ride at The Woodstock Arms over the years. When the Woodstock pub reopened in 2016, it was THE place to go, packed to the chalet-style rafters with bonhomie, frothy pints and a heaving restaurant, locals and visitors alike vying for space.
But then the crowd moved on, as did the chefs and staff and it slid into obscurity.
UNTIL NOW – because with owner Johnny Pugsley back in the kitchen, a new team on board, and a zesty menu to delve into, its former customers are returning in droves. READ ABOUT IT HERE And we were amongst them.
Settled in the charming courtyard garden nursing a whoppingly good Bloody Mary from the actual BLOODY MARY MENU (mine, the Smokey boasted chase oak smoked vodka, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco, lemon juice, Big Tom, horseradish, sherry, pepper, kimchi salt, celery stick, dehydrated tomato and a crackling stick £9.50), our appetites increased.
What to choose however was a hard decision because everything sounded good – fresh, summery, seasonal, eclectic and nostalgic. But would it deliver?
On every front. The pea and mint soup with house focaccia and Netherend Farm butter (£8) was satisfyingly green and sweet with just the right bite.
The Evesham purple sprouting broccoli with hollandaise, hazelnuts, garlic and a herb crumb (£10) was another original and skilfully textured dish although the stems were a bit pithy.
As for the tomato and mascarpone tart with bitter leaves and parmesan aioli (£9), it stole the show with its delicacy and flavour – a classic done brilliantly.
Then the steak – a 600g T-bone with fries and a béarnaise sauce, which was one of the best we’ve had in a very long time. Generous, beautifully cooked, the knife slid through, and the chips were perfect.
The grilled halloumi salad with gem, quinoa, red cabbage, green beans, cherry tomatoes , chilli and mustard (£16) was an interesting, tasty and vibrant offering which we finished with a satisfied smack of the lips.
And then onto pudding. The peach tatin with vanilla ice cream (£9) was a masterclass in silky flaky pastry, sticky caramel and sharp soft peach. Absolutely exquisite.
But the best thing about The Woodstock Arms is that it’s not made out to be a big deal. You can sit, relax and eat without any pomp and circumstance.
The staff are superb but don’t overshadow the meal, the wine list superb, the cocktails banging, the vibe friendly and the food a wonderful bonus.
Which means you are more likely to pop in there on a regular basis, rather than leaving it for special occasions, especially as the menus change weekly.
We will be back soon. I hope you will too.
The Woodstock Arms is on Market Street, Woodstock. https://www.thewoodstockarms.com