Maytime Inn - Asthall

Driving along the Windrush Valley between Witney and Burford the villages in between boast some pretty darn good pubs. Crawley has The Lamb, and both Minster Lovell and Swinbrook have a Swan; the latter has an excellent reputation which I reviewed recently.

Asthall is another one of those pretty little villages that sits in the valley on the Windrush. I'm happy to report that Asthall has the Maytime Inn which stands up to the quality consistent along the river.

With family coming to stay for the weekend we thought we'd have a little look online before making our decision, especially considering a not so complimentary review via a friend-of-a-friend. However, we wanted to make our own judgement and upon looking at the website we were swayed to try it out from the pictures and a tasty looking menu which focused on local produce.

The Maytime Inn has recently been refurbished; to get from the car park there is an attractive garden area, inside there is attractive stone walls and wood and I particularly liked the wooden kegs sitting above the bar. It was relatively quite when we went in, so had a choice of seating but opted for the a table in a light and airy room with a glass orangery style roof.

With three ales on tap I was already liking this gem of a country pub. I plumped for a pint of Abingdon Bridge, brewed by Loose Cannon Brewery in; you’ve probably guessed it, Abingdon. It’s a well rounded beer, starting with hops and moving to rich caramel notes that I’m sure I’ll be drinking more off.

The menu had a good selection and challenged my food decision making skills. I went for the three-x- fish and hand cut chip option. Served on, the gradually taking over the world plate alternative, a wooden board, I was presented with squid rings, haddock and salmon all encrusted in a light and crispy batter. Having the combination of fish worked really well – the haddock had a good flavour, the salmon though not often served in batter really worked and the one of my favourite things from the sea, the squid (not a fish I know) was lovely and tender.

If squid isn't a fish, what do you call a person who goes out to catch them? A squiderman??

The chunky chips were crispy and fluffy, and the other accompaniment, a pea remoulade, a type of soup and modern alternative to mushy peas, had a satisfying flavour intensity and was great for dunking the chips in.

Mrs Richinflavour opted for the wild boar burger. By all accounts the burger meat changes regular, not just sticking to the traditional beef. On our visit wild boar was the flavour du jour. Obligingly they served the burger bun less to cater for a yeast intolerance and generously deducted a cost from the bill to compensate for the lack of full ingredients. I’m told the overall burger flavour was nicely herby with a subtle porky undertone that resulted in a lighter, softer alternative to beef. Despite being completely satisfied with my own meal I was more than happy to help polish off the burger once Mrs Richinflavour had been beaten by the portion size.

The fourth meal on our table was the Beef and Ale pie. Despite it being perfectly pleasing, expectations against a pie at a different establishment in Norfolk meant the Maytime Inn variation didn’t quite live up to the eaters previous tasting. However, it still provided an enjoyable meal, although I couldn't help but notice it looked more like a casserole with a puff pastry lid. I don't want to go on, but, at a minimum I think the pastry should seal in the treats below and if I could get my way all pies would have a pastry base (it's the ideal flavour mop).

We looked at desserts and while I could probably have fitted something light-ish in, most of the choices on offer were just a tad rich for an already full diner. Serves me right for finishing off Mrs Richinflavour's plate. Next time though!

You can check out the Maytime Inn's website here.