Matthew Edwards finds excellence tucked away in a tiny Oxfordshire village
the EAGLE TAVERN
Tel: 01367 241879
Opening times: Tues to Fri 12pm to 3pm and 5.30pm to 11pm; Saturday 12pm to 11pm; Sunday 12pm to 5pm
THE Eagle Tavern is worth a flying visit wherever you live in Swindon, as it serves up a visual feast to send the taste buds soaring.
The village pub in Little Coxwell, near Faringdon, is a 25-munute drive away along the A420, but is worth the trip to experience food that not only tastes great but is a visual spectacle.
When my partner, Kate, and I walked into the pub on a damp Friday evening, we were greeted by warm smiles from behind the bar and the bustling atmosphere of locals getting together after a long week at work.
We were shown to our table in the bar, which was fine as we felt involved in the cosiness rather than being sat in the charming, but surprisingly empty, little restaurant.
Having looked at the website, I had already seen that the pub has recently been awarded two AA rosettes. The menu has a nice introduction explaining the ethics of the pub and where the inspiration for the food comes from – mostly from the chef’s grandma’s cooking, so I was a little surprised when the delicate starters were presented.
I’d ordered the crab cakes, while Kate had ordered a poached egg with asparagus and potatoes, and I was expecting two starters straight out of grandma’s cookbook. What we got was a tantalizing starter, where the presentation was well thought through, and the tastes complemented each other on the plate.
That got our tastebuds in the mood for the main courses, where I’d opted for lamb cooked two ways and Kate opted for chicken on a beetroot risotto and goats cheese.
Again we were amazed by the presentation when it was put in front of us, with the vivid green pea puree lifting my lamb off the plate and the rich colour of the beetroot making Kate’s mouth water.
And this was not a case of style over substance. The meat on both plates, which is locally sourced from butcher Patrick Strainge in Bampton, was moist and succulent, and the vegetables, from Coleshill Organic near Highworth, were seasonal and fresh.
Just when I thought the meal could not get any better, I greedily decided to look at the pudding menu.
I’m over the moon that I did, because I found what could arguably be described as the best pudding ever – a bold statement maybe, but the Pimms and lemonade dessert was to die for.
Despite the rain trickling down the window next to us, I went for the traditionally English summer drink, uniquely served up as a dessert to bring sunshine to the tastebuds.
Th elderflower jelly had pieces of strawberry, mint and cucumber held in it, and was accompanied by a lemon sorbet, orange foam and concentrated drops of Pimms.
I made sure I squeezed every element of the dish on the first spoonful, and the taste of Pimms and lemonade came rushing to my mouth.
On that summery note, I paid the bill and returned to the reality of a real British summer by stepping back out in to the rain.
The A’la Carte menu we chose from costs a reasonable £19.50 for two courses and £24.50 for three, so the bill, including a bottle of wine, came to £60 for us both – for the quality of food we received it was worth every penny.
The Eagle can definitely sit proudly on its perch for serving high quality, locally sourced food which looks as good as it tastes.
I will definitely be making a swift return, if only to have that dessert again.