As I glanced inside the basket of the person standing before me at the supermarket the other day, I realised it’s been such a privilege being born in a country and a family that made me appreciate food. I don’t mean to be pretentious about it and I can be partial to fish fingers and chips as much as the next girl but if and when the money and opportunities to try different or better things arise, I think it is a crime not to grab them.
The opportunity to try out the Trout Inn at Tadpole Bridge near Bampton came as I was looking for a Sunday lunch with a bit of oomph. A few years ago, I had very unpleasant experience in a similar type of hotel-restaurant so I was not sure what to expect at the Trout Inn. I need not have worried as the atmosphere was not stifling and I felt valued without being oppressed by the approachable maître d’and her attentive staff all through. This relaxed atmosphere in this gorgeous building and location was the best prelude to food I could have hoped for.
Food wise, everything on the menu is so appetising that my friend and I promptly forgot our initial resolution to only have a main dish and decided on a starter of whitebait while clocking in the tempting desserts for later. Whitebait is increasingly on offer on pub menus but rarely done so well. Let’s just say that our normally lively conversation became punctuated with silences, aahs and mmmms as we enjoyed the fresh crisp fish while our hands were doing the sort of movements that means “it’s sooo good” if you are French and “the French are mad” if you are not.
Then came the main dish. I had the Kelmscott pork and my friend the Hereford beef. Both were undeniably good quality but a little on the dry side for us despite the excellent gravy. Having said that, anything more than pink in the middle is overdone for the French so it might just be a cultural difference. The vegetable were very tasteful, looking like they had just been picked from the garden and I could have eaten the pork crackling until the pigs came home…
The dessert was another Halleluiah moment. After 14 years of searching for the perfect crème brûlée in England, I finally found THE ONE. Reader, I would have married it if it had been alive! If the chef is available, he is my second best. The crunchy caramel on top was warm and thick enough to be broken with the spoon while the cream underneath was colder but not ice cold with just the right undertone of vanilla, perfect in its simplicity. It certainly redeemed years of okayish brûlées and nightmarish brûlées.
All in all, am I pleased I tried the Trout Inn despite wrongly thinking it might be a too gastro-stiff upper lip pub for my taste? Absolutely. Do I recommend it to everybody? Absolutely.
En Français: Très très bon pub visité ce dimanche. Le Trout Inn at Tadpole Bridge a l’avantage d’être situé près d’Oxford (20 à 30min en voiture), dans les Cotsolds et sur la Tamise. C’est le parfait endroit pour déguster un Sunday lunch, le déjeuner du dimanche traditionnel des Btitanniques, qui inclut normalement une viande rôtie coupée en fines tranches, des pommes de terrres rôties, deux légumes de saison, un yorkshire pudding (sorte de vol au vent non garni) et un gravy (jus épaissi). Le Sunday lunch est servi partout en Angleterre mais attention à la version touriste, réchauffée et sans saveurt. Au Trout Inn, aucune faute de goût dans une atmoshère relaxante et un décor très typique. A faire pour découvrir la vraie cuisine Anglaise, celle qui mise sur la qualité des ingrédients et la simplicité des plats.