The Dundas Arms in Kintbury had a bit of an overhaul a few years ago; a bit of redecoration, a spruce up in the garden and more. It has recently come under new management and I was invited to try out their dinner menu. I had been for lunch a few days before and I liked what they served (classic Ploughman’s and sandwiches) but I wasn’t prepared for the dinner menu (and food) to be quite as good as it was.
I was in one of those terrible dining situations where I was looking at the menu but as it all sounded so good I couldn’t possibly choose what to have. Then they came at me with the specials which threw a spanner in the works. I distracted myself by looking at the wine list; a good selection by the glass and an even better range by the bottle. Couple this with some local beers and slightly more unusual spirits this is a great pub for a drink.
Finally I decided to try the sweetcorn and basil velouté with chicken macaroni (£5.95), although the tea cured salmon sounded extremely good. It was full of flavour with sweetness from the sweetcorn and floral notes from the basil. The chicken macaroni was one large piece filled with delicate chicken and herbs; I would have said it was more of a cannelloni but if that’s the only thing to complain about then it’s no bad thing!
The OH very much enjoyed the salt beef terrine with apple and mini gherkins (£6.95). I sneaked a piece too and really liked the mushrooms that were included within the terrine itself; something I’ve not had before.
For my main course I had the lemon poached hake, ratatouille and olive gnocchi (£16.50). The combination of fish, Mediterranean vegetables and potatoes is an oldie but a goldie and when it’s served up like this it’s all the slight tweaks and little changes that make a huge difference. The fish was cooked perfectly and fell apart. I prefer a finely diced ratatouille to a more chunky one as I think it’s better to get one of each of the veg on each forkful so this ratatouille was perfect for me. The olive gnocchi were so good; faintly flavoured with olive and giving a nice salty taste to the whole meal. There was also some sundried tomato paste to dabble in giving a delicious intense tomato flavour.
The other main course was pork tenderloin, salsa verde, sage and butternut spelt risotto (£16). Now I’m not a fan of butternut squash but you could have easily converted me with this dish. The pork was so flavourful, cooked so well and the whole dish was really well balanced. I love to see things like spelt, farro or quinoa on a menu and the spelt risotto has made me want to give it a try myself. This was mighty fine with a glass of Rioja too.
Pudding was as hard to decide on as the rest of the meal but I eventually settled on the elderflower panna cotta, Pimms jelly and macerated strawberries (£6.50). If that’s not summer in a pudding I don’t know what is. Really light and delicate I thought it could have done with a touch more elderflower but the strawberries were deliciously intense and the Pimms jelly added a welcome bit of sharpness.
The other pudding I had my eye on (which luckily the OH ordered) was the iced chocolate and cherry parfait with salted caramel popcorn (£6.50). I thought it looked great when it came to the table and the different textures on the plate made it really interesting. The kirsch soaked cherries finished it off nicely.
I loved how summery the whole menu was; it was celebrating ingredients when they are in season and doing something different with them. Overall I was really impressed with the food and the service was great too. It’s the little things, the extra bit of effort that they make in the kitchen which sets it apart. I can’t wait to see what turns up on their autumn menu and I’d really like to give their Sunday lunch a go too. Also the Epicurean Collection (which The Dundas Arms is part of) has just won the award for Best Pub Group in the Good Pub Guide 2016.
This meal was paid for by The Dundas. All opinions expressed and words are my own.