Last year, I was in need of a good Sunday lunch and together with my brother-in-law, the Family P all trooped off to The Old Thatched Inn (TOTI) at Adstock. As you may recall, it wasn't a 100% satisfactory experience, but since then I have suffered many such Sunday lunch related disappointments and so, when they got back in touch and offered us the chance to give TOTI* another crack, we jumped at the chance. Admittedly, Mrs P has visited a few more times than me but she has been a die-hard TOTI fan for a while and even demanded that I include them in my recent top tips.
So, a date night was confirmed and after the babysitter arrived (this was adult time - no dolls or disney channel talk allowed), we got right to it so to speak. As before, this place looks great. Full of generous helpings of character and homely atmosphere. It represents the best kind of modern country pub. It's the sort of place you could rock up for a decent pint, then after a couple of drinks decide to stay for a bit of pan-fried Aylesbury duck breast in the restaurant. As you do.
His and hers, Mrs P has always loved a good pint of bitter**. The beer here is good but not spectacularly local and there is still enough Doombar on tap for the average non-fanatical beer drinking CAMRA aficionados among us. They do, however, serve bubbles by the glass. A Mrs P pleaser for sure!
The decor remains relaxed and wonderfully comfortable with big squashy sofas from where you can enjoy your pre-dinner drinkiepoos.
Starters were a wild garlic and white onion soup with some kind of giant homemade fried focaccia croutons and a Mediterranean salad. Wild garlic is just so now, dah-ling and this was absolutely lovely - the portion was ample and the flavour was just as generous. The salad was fresh and light with classic flavours and again, presented in bumper proportions.
Mains were equally impressive and looked if not pretty, then certainly tasteful. The duck and mash were soft and packed with flavour, the skin crunchy and beautifully blistered. The cabbage bringing a mild but sharp twang that cut through the fatty duck like a tasty bolt of lightning through a storm called Dinner.
The menu proudly declares that the blade of beef has been cooked for 8 hours and having tasted it, I would believe them even if they claimed to have spent 6 of those hours painting each one with freshly squeezed rainbow juice from a brush made from shaved unicorn hair. The meat simply melted away and with the crunch of the veg was such a joy that I had to resist the urge to slap Mrs P on the hand with my knife when she suggested that we 'swap plates'.
The puds were equally stella with an apple and custard tart sitting alongside the most intense chocolate parfait I've ever had. The tart was creamy and smooth with that custard nestling within its pastry cup just daring you to smother it with the quenelle of solidified apple sauce that was placed so tantalizingly close.
The parfait was a great mix of tastes and textures. From the crunch of nuts, the smooth nutella dollop on the top and the dense and intense parfait itself;
Understated and classy, the plates brought the whole meal to a well deserved end. We rolled out seriously pleased and replete, safe in the knowledge that if we had paid for the meal, we would still have had change from £30 a head plus drinks. For food like this, that is serious value.
A great pub, my only slight annoyance is that they insist on calling themselves a 'gastro pub', there is no shame in being just a pub and TOTI can sleep easy knowing that they are good enough to let the gastro speak for itself.
*Great acronym - every time i say it, I think of this, but perhaps that says more about me than I would like to publicly admit.
**That joke actually caused Mrs P to commit physical violence upon my person.
While Mrs P and I dined as guests of TOTI, the opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone, it must be said though that we liked it so much that we signed up there and then for their upcoming wine tasting evening. Four courses and wine for 45 quid, what's not to like?