The Kingham Plough.
I was so pleased to be able to get a table at short notice. Pleased but also slightly worried that they seemed to have so many tables free on a Bank Holiday Sunday evening. I had high hopes, having read all the reviews and convinced C that it was worth the drive.
We arrived and went in through the car park. Not sure of the procedure, we stood around at the ante-room to the restaurant. We hovered aimlessly for a while, trying to attract attention whilst a harassed-looking gentleman ran back and forth, back and forth to the bookings computer. I wasn’t aware that we were wearing our magic invisibility cloaks that evening and I must be more careful in future.
We eventually found our own way to a bar and I mentioned that we had a booking. They passed us a menu and went on serving. It was all very casual. Finally, I managed to order a drink and we went and sat down. It wasn’t clear whether we were eating there or in the main room. No -one said. We looked round and for a second thought we might be in Notting Hill. Not in an entirely bad way.
Having removed our invisibility cloaks, the harassed-looking gentleman finally came to welcome us and tell us about the daily specials, going into paeans of praise for the tomato
and basil soup and the seafood pie. When he came back a couple of minutes later, to take our order, we were surprised, indeed incredulous, to be told that the seafood pie was no longer available and had already sold out. It was 7.15. Given the fuss he’d made about the pie and our obvious and immediate enthusiasm for it, I actually thought he was joking and he laughed. He wasn’t and I didn’t.
We duly downgraded our order to the “ordinary fish pie and I chose the soup on the strength of his glowing recommendation.
We went into the spacious and pretty dining room. We were brought two pieces of decent bread. I know I’ve gone on about my bread “thing” before, (making up for lost carbs), but these pieces were miniscule. Just simply not enough. Ungenerous.. We had to ask for more. We also had to ask three times for someone to take our drinks order. It arrived after the first course was delivered. The wine was corked. Not their fault of course, but this wasn’t a great start.
My starter. I should have sent it back. It was described as a tomato and basil soup with grilled courgettes and a tomato mousse. I asked where the mousse was. The waiter didn’t know. He went to the kitchen to ask. I thought they had left it off the dish. He came back. It was the chopped tomato. Of course it was. Silly me.
Look at the picture. Does that look appetising to you? C did rather better and was very happy with his home-smoked salmon and potato salad and pronounced it delicious.
I’m afraid by this time I wasn’t really listening to C’s verdict on his food, having decided that I wasn’t having a nice time and that it was just going to be one big disappointment. C looked at me, wondering whether we I was going to be having “the conversation” with the manager. I decided against it. Sometimes it just makes things worse and anyway, it was my turn to drink and not drive and I didn’t want to ruin it and have to leave early.
Having got into the “everything is going to be crap” mindset, I was very pleasantly surprised then by the very delicious fish pie which, in some small way (both literally and metaphorically speaking) helped to redeem matters. It was very expertly seasoned, rich without being cloying and containing decent pieces of fresh fish. Size matters. It was small. Other than that, it was faultless. I could have lived without the cold comfort cabbage side dish. We all know it goes cold quickly – deal with it.
The desserts. I was very excited by the prospect of the chocolate mousse/peanut butter ice cream/cream combination. The chocolate mousse tasted good but it was too
dense although I did manage to force myself to finish of course. That was, indeed, of sufficient size.
C had the ice cream. I think the word was “competent” which for him is actually quite positive.
So, if I’d been greeted at the entrance, been told where to sit, been able to order what was advertised and indeed highly recommended; been able to order a drink at the first request, not have a corked bottle of wine which the wine waiter actually said she thought smelt iffy when smelling the cork (!) and had a starter that actually tasted of something, I would have had a great evening. As it was, I won’t be going back.
Any one of those failings I could overlook. Together, unacceptable. A real shame because you can see that on its day, this could be a very solid performer.