From Room At The Inn
AA Lifestyle Guide, edited by David Hancock
After a decade in the London hothouse of Le Gavroche and the Connaught Hotel, in 2005 chef Simon Crawshaw swapped the city for this 18th-century red-brick pub deep in the Chiltern Hills. He hasn't looked back. Lost down narrow leafy lanes, with valley views across rolling fields, the place draws walkers for ale and sandwiches, and foodies for accomplished modern cooking. Step through the latch door to find a cracking snug bar, replete with blackened beams, a flagstone floor and a blazing log fire in the original brick fireplace - the perfect spot for a post-walk pint of locally brewed Marlow Rebellion. Rooms ramble beyond, and from the split-level rear restaurant the view of the duck pond and its gradually sinking red telephone box will keep you amused between courses.
The quirky individually decorated bedrooms are named after local shoots, all are done out in calming Farrow & Ball colours, with plump down duvets on big brass and wooden beds, an eclectic mix of furnishings, fluffy towels and Molton Brown toiletries in the tiled bathrooms.
Everything is freshly prepared on the premises from local ingredients, and Simon's daily menus are varied and versatile to please both the booted walkers who call by at lunchtime for soup and sandwiches and the evening diners who travel miles to sample his innovative modern cooking. In the bar, tuck into tomato, lettuce and potato soup, served with olive and pesto bread, and a thick sandwich filled with roast Oxfordshire beef, wild rocket and horseradish, or you may like to try the home-made beef burger or, perhaps, wild mushroom and tarragon risotto. If you have time to linger longer, opt for the excellent value set lunch menu, perhaps starting with chicken liver parfait with home-made piccalilli and following with steak and kidney pie.
The cooking style moves up a gear in the evening, with the short imaginative menu offering the like of seared scallops with chorizo and cauliflower fritter ahead of lamb rump with aubergine caviar and black olive jus or pan-fried cod with crushed peas and shrimp butter. Lemon cheesecake with confit of pineapple makes a tangy choice for afters. Don't miss the popular monthly live jazz and tapas evening.