Henrik with Victoria and Emily at The Duck On The Pond

The sense of wonder surrounding The Duck On The Pond began as we were getting out of the car; the beautiful gardens complete with huge swathes of veg patches, flowers and plants, seducing you before you even reached the historic pub doors.

The veggie patch at The Duck On The Pond

The cocktails only solidified our view that we were in for a night to remember, the sheer magic infused into the different conceptions, the attention to detail and the taste were worth the trip alone. A ‘rhubarb garden’ (rhubarb gin, lime and apple and a sherbet dust) from the specials board, a mocktail topped with meringue and a cosmopolitan, were a vision to behold.

The cocktail specials at The Duck On The Pond

Having reviewed Hendrik Dutson-Steinfeld‘s food when he first opened The Duck On The Pond in South Newington, near Banbury, with his wife Julie back in 2022 READ ABOUT THE OPENING HERE, he’s been on our radar ever since, nominated in Best Gastropub and Best Chef categories of the OXINABOX FOOD AWARDS 2024. So it was little surprise to find Michelin has just added it to their esteemed guide.

The Duck On The Pond

Last time we enjoyed the impressive 12 course taster menu READ OUR REVIEW HERE, but in a bid to make the pub more accessible, the a la carte menu we enjoyed was just as memorable.

The cocktails at The Duck On The Pond

Growing as much of the produce there as possible, The Duck On The Pond is making more than a token effort to be more sustainable, and you can buy the wines you enjoyed at dinner to take home (a nice touch), all the crockery is made by a local potter and the cutlery stands made by an artisan carpenter.

But it’s the food that really does the talking, starting with the tiny amuse bouche – a tiny cup of foresty mushroom soup bursting with flavour, served with freshly made crusty bread. Heaven.

Mushroom soup amuse bouche

We fought over the starters, everyone wanting to try a bit of everything, from the delicate, nostalgic cured Hampshire chalk stream trout with dill pickled cucumbers, cultured cream and Hampshire watercress (£13.95) the tiny cucumber balls popping in the mouth, the dish perfectly balanced.

The trout

The Paddock Farm ham hock scotch egg with peas & cured salt pig pork (£11) was more robust, beautifully pulled flakes of ham hock encased in a crispy croquette and served with a homemade piccalilli.

Ham hock starter

The beer and cheddar soup with toast (£8) which sounded like a French onion soup, was nothing of the sort, instead the deep, creamy, fragrant, pale bowl of light cheesy broth impossible to resist – we scraped the bowl clean.

beer and cheese soup

The starters were so enticing we had more for mains with the Duck On The Pond’s exemplary chips (chunky, crisp and fluffy inside), the whimsical bowl of heritage tomatoes with homemade ricotta cheese and wild garlic dressing, so typical of Hendrik’s cooking – letting the ingredients speak for themselves – the burst of flavour in the tomatoes contrasting with the creamy depth of the cheese (£9).

The tomatoe and home made ricotta starter

Even the Waldorf Salad (Oxford Blue Cheese, pears, pickled garden celery, raisin and walnut dressing) was delicate to an extreme – instead of a mish-mash, the tiny components shone in their own right.

Waldorf salad

But the more meaty mains certainly held their own – the Purston Manor lamb loin with crispy shoulder, asparagus and new potatoes cooked in wild garlic butter (£34) was much more refreshing and light than the dish sounded, with a little shredded lamb croquette – a really elegant dish.

The lamb

The Paddock Farm pork belly with savoy cabbage preserved in apple vinegar, creamed potatoes and local apple puree (£26) again demonstrated Hendrik’s understanding of textures and taste – the potatoes scattered with a freeze dried onion crumble, the puree smooth and tart against the unctuous sweetness of the pork belly, the potato smooth as a baby’s bottom, the jug of gravy bringing it all together.

The pork belly

But if anything summed up the whole Duck On The Pond ethos it was the hay custard, Forge Farm honey, caramelised milk crumble with honey and buttermilk ice-cream (£8), just savour that description people – the bucolic, wistful, soothing tones matched in taste and content, the flavours slowly coming through.

The chocolate mousse cake and toasted heritage grain ice-cream (£8.50) was more elegant and stark, the ice cream standing out with its bite.

Chocolate dessert

As for the chocolate truffles served with the coffee – my oh my, they actually melted in your fingers. Absolutely delicious.


So yes, Michelin is absolutely spot on. Hendrik Dutson-Steinfeld at The Duck On The Pond is one to watch, rivalling Oxfordshire’s top destination gastropubs and creating something truly original. It’s like nowhere else, and for around £50 a head deserves to be coveted. So go, enjoy and revel in his sentimental food.