There is one place on everyone’s lips at the moment and that’s The Double Red Duke in Clanfield.
National restaurant critics and bloggers have descended en masse to find out what all the fuss is about and pronounced the new venture from Country Creatures, who also run The Swan in Ascott Under Wychwood and The Chequers at Churchill, a massive culinary success.
We reported on the opening of the new Oxfordshire pub back in January https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/a-sneak-peak-at-new-double-red-duke-pub-in-clanfield-opening-in-2021-with-top-chefs-an-open-fire-menu-and-full-refurbishment/ and the great and the good have since descended, making it the new place to go and be seen.
The brainchild of husband and wife duo Sam and Georgie Pearman the 16th century Jacobean inn, formerly The Plough, has reopened after an extensive refurbishment.
Boasting 19 bedrooms and a menu centred around an open-fire kitchen, they have recruited award-winning chef, butcher, restauranteur and food writer Richard Turner of Hawksmoor and Pitt Cue fame to work with Head Chef Richard Sandiford.
“IT was a highly memorable experience from start to finish”
Managing to get a rare late booking, we hared across the county to the Oxfordshire Cotswold village to finally try it out for ourselves.
Aesthetically, The Double Red Duke is picture perfect from the word go with an almost Edwardian feel; it’s garden framing the historic inn beautifully landscaped with candy striped umbrellas leading onto the lawn, complete with summer hut and outdoor pizza and BBQ ovens.
Inside, the inn has been cleverly carved up into a multitude of different spaces from the light filled atrium where we ate, to cosier velvet boothed dining areas, snugs and the open plan kitchen where avid customers line the pass watching the epic work being carried out by the skilled kitchen team.
Led through to our table in the packed restaurant, the decor and staffing prowess set the scene for what was a highly memorable experience from start to finish.
The menu is equally contemporary – a wonderful mix of old-fashioned dishes, sat alongside funky salads and flatbreads; from devilled kidneys nestling with burrata, lemon and peas, scampi or crab on toast with Spit Roast Piri Piri Chicken and Cow Pie & Mash.
Between the four of us we really tested the menu, and considering the numbers passing through, from lunch until close, they coped valiantly.
“The Double Red Duke offers an intoxicating relaxing and indulgent setting with enticing, appealing, and seductive food”
Several of the dishes had sold out, all the asparagus sadly which featured on several veggie dishes, rendering the remaining offerings rather minimal, and some of the fish specials, but there was still more than enough to go around.
While we decided, we ordered a range of flatbreads on the snack menu; the Courgette & Mint (£7.50) and the Sheep’s Cheese, Herb & Honey (£7.50).
Setting the scene, they were soft, unctuous, fresh, doughy, oozing with cheese and butter, dotted with herbs or shaved vegetables, enormously indulgent, yet unfussy – they went down a storm.
We also sampled the Crispy Dublin Bay Scampi with Lemon Mayonnaise (£10) which was fresh and light, and the devilled kidneys £8) which were unapologetically unadorned, plump and juicy, smothered in a dark, rich Dickensian sauce and deemed a great success.
The grilled oysters with bone marrow (£3.75 each) were a luxurious indulgence much enjoyed.
The benefit of the menu is that it can match your mood or appetite, but what it does excel at is the new trend of a cut of meat to which you add your own accruements, a deceptively expensive way to eat, but the upmarket crowd here didn’t seem to bat an eyelid.
Hence we chose the solitary Mangalitsa Pork Chop (an eyewatering £23), throw in the Hand-cut Salt & Vinegar Chips (£4.50) and BBQ Hispi Cabbage & Miso Butter (£6) and it came to a hefty £33.50. Not for the feint-hearted then.
But to be honest we were so overwhelmed with the sense of occasion provided by The Double Red Duke we eagerly partook.
The shaved salad (starter or main) was rather disappointing, more of an undressed coleslaw with an insipid dressing which we sent back.
Another member of our party chose two starters and a side – the Apple Glazed Bacon Ribs, Apple, Tamarind & Fennel Slaw (£11), the Burrata with Peas & lemon (£9), and some creamed spinach (£5). The ribs were suitably sweet and sticky, the meat falling off the bone, the burrata so runny it oozed all over the plate, and the spinach disappeared before anyone else could partake.
The lamb chops with a milk and honey marinade, which gave the dish a Lebanese slant, were juicy and cooked to perfection.
For dessert we somehow managed the enticing sounding Wood Roasted Peaches, Amaretto & Creme Fraiche (£9) and the Strawberry Ripple Pavalova Ice Cream Sundae (£9) which were as charming, rustic and fun as everything else on the menu.
And as we licked our spoons I marvelled at what they have achieved at The Double Red Duke; an intoxicating, relaxing and indulgent setting with enticing, appealing, and seductive food.
So yes I get it, in droves, but unsurprisingly this kind of understated luxury comes at a price.
For more info or to book The Double Red Duke at Clanfield go to: https://www.countrycreatures.com/double-red-duke