This was a gifted meal.
A few Fridays ago I headed off for a one night stay at The Maytime Inn at Asthall (near Burford, Oxfordshire). Sometimes I think a weekend away is better than a week away. Taking a Friday afternoon off to escape somewhere, far enough away that you’re somewhere different but not so far away that you’re forever travelling, to spend a short time relaxing or doing something new is always good idea as far as I’m concerned. Asthall is a very picturesque Cotswold village at the heart of which is The Maytime Inn.
We arrived in the evening after a pretty eventful trip involving road closures, lots of traffic and general “I wish apparition was a real thing” to a very warm welcome. I noticed the many, many gins behind the bar (more on those later), good range of beers and fantastic looking homemade chocolate chip shortbread before we were shown to our room. I loved that they grabbed a fresh supply of milk, in its own ice bucket, to bring to the room for the tea and coffee.
Now I’m not one who likes to spoil my own dinner but there were two extremely tempting pieces of the aforementioned chocolate chip shortbread with the tea and coffee in the room and it would have been rude not to try it. It would have been a shameful waste of fresh milk too, so I felt I had no choice but to make a nice cup of tea (Clipper tea, coffee and hot chocolate to choose from), relax and eat the shortbread. It was lovely.
The room itself was great; a huge comfy bed, one of those waterfall showers that you don’t want to get out of, indulgent and generous toiletries (from Cowshed) and all sorts of little touches to make the stay a bit more luxurious. Nothing in the room, pub or restaurant had been in any way scrimped or saved on; the whole feel and look was that everything there was the best it could possibly be. None of your mini bottles of toiletries, no UHT milk pots (I have a particular personal dislike for those), no pre-packed slightly soggy biscuits, just a place filled with absolutely no compromise.
We were booked in for dinner that evening. There were plenty of tempting things on the menu and I went for the Scotch egg with homemade brown sauce and the OH went for the Parma ham, blue cheese and figs to start. My Scotch egg was delicious; a little bit of black pudding added to the pork for something extra, the yolk was perfectly runny and the brown sauce had a great spice mix added which made it super tasty. The Parma ham dish was really well balanced and quite generous with the ham and blue cheese.
It was a little harder to choose what to have for the main course; there was the a la carte and pub classic menus to choose from. Very tempted by the goat’s cheese aranchini and wild boar burger I eventually settled for having the chicken, mushrooms, kale, parmentier potatoes and cep sauce. The OH chose the braised beef shin, potato and celeriac mash, cabbage and carrots. Both portions were really generous without being overfilling and I loved the flavour in the cup sauce with my chicken, it brought the whole dish together. The beef shin just fell apart and was delightfully sticky.
For pudding I chose the blackberry parfait with honeycomb which was a light way to finish the meal; the honeycomb was lightly salted and the blackberries had been steeped in something alcoholic and overall everything worked really nicely together. The OH had the cheese board which had the unusual (but I think always welcome) addition of a little pot of honey to drizzle over the cheeses should you so choose. The cheeses worked so well together and the goat’s cheese (bottom left) was absolutely fantastic, although I have forgotten the name of it!
After pudding I had a good read through their gin menu, always words to my ears, and tried their Half Hitch which is made with tea and bergamot so has a hint of Earl Grey. A lovely way to end the meal with a cold gin and tonic next to a roaring fire.
The room they used for breakfast I hadn’t really clocked the night before but it was light, airy and open. There were so many things available to choose from, all presented really nicely: cereals, warm pastries, homemade yoghurt and blackcurrant compote, fruit, juices and then the hot menu.
Consisting of locally made sausages, bacon and black pudding how could I resist the full English? It came with proper, thick cut bread and was one of the nicest I’ve ever had. I know baked beans aren’t necessarily the pinnacle of sophistication but I wouldn’t have minded a spoonful to come with the breakfast!
We left well rested, very full and really impressed. I’m going to go out there and say it, this is one of the best places I have ever stayed. I would recommend this pub to anyone who wanted to visit the Cotswolds or even to those who live nearby and just fancy a bit of an indulgent break away. I reckon if there’s snow on the ground, a Sunday roast here with the fire going would be pretty hard to beat.
Dinner, bed and breakfast was paid for by The Maytime. All opinions expressed and words are my own.