While we waited for the first of our six courses to arrive at The Thatch in Thame, we had no idea that we would actually be enjoying more of a feasting menu than a tasting menu…with wines to match.

from now on I only ever want my Roquefort whipped

We were there to sample the new spring tasting menu and were even concerned about whether there would be enough to eat, but Frazer, Jon and the dedicated team of creative chefs at The Thatch really pulled out all the stops to make this a memorably delicious dining experience. 

The Thatch is a classic English pub, in a 16th century building. Beautifully decorated we were still admiring the interior when our first course arrived.

Kicking off with artichoke bruschetta, chilli and garlic was an inspired idea as the crunch and the zingy flavours really woke up our taste buds – especially when paired with a refreshing South African Chenin Blanc – appropriately called After the Clouds – developed by The Thatch.

Ready for more, we then enjoyed a pressed leek terrine with whipped Roquefort and walnuts, as well as a plate of maple cured Blythburgh ham with a fried duck egg, land cress and Lancashire bomb cheese. 

The leek terrine looked beautiful and was crunchy, flavoursome, substantial and screamed spring, matched with the silky whipped cheese and the delicious crunch of the walnuts.

From now on I only ever want my Roquefort whipped and it was heartening that so much culinary love had clearly gone into creating a truly original vegetarian plate of food.

The ham and egg option went down exceptionally well too – a little bit of sunshine on a plate. Three simple ingredients turned into a classy, colourful and delicious dish.

Onwards to course number three which for me was a very generous bowl of the ultimate comfort food – gnocchi. Buttery, hot, salty, cheesy and peppered with toasted pine nuts and basil, I dived straight in.  It was heaven in a bowl.

I did end up sharing some with Inspector Morsel, as it was rather filling, even though he was heavily engaged with his delicious roast rack of Cornish lamb, sweetheart cabbage and hotpot potatoes, served with an excellent red wine, which he rather enjoyed.

Or as he put it: “If I was a condemned man, I would make this my last meal.”

That’s when the groaning started and I was glad that I was wearing a loose fitting dress…

Powering through to the fourth course, Inspector Morsel was treated to pan-fried cod loin on a crab bisque risotto, while I experienced the caramelised onion and mushroom tart with spinach, a poached duck egg and Bearnaise sauce.  

The fish was moist, flakey and cooked to perfection, and the risotto packed a punch, oozing with seafood flavours. The tart was another triumph for any discerning diner – and the non-vegetarians looked on enviously as I tucked in rather smugly. My favourite course of all, and trust me it was very hard to choose. 

The poached duck egg was spot on and the combination of different mushrooms, the flakiest pastry and caramelised onions just worked so well. It felt luxurious and a real treat. I would never be able to replicate it in my own kitchen, which is one of my usual barometers when eating out.

And there was more. The first of two puddings was a warm, melty, indulgent chocolate tart resplendent with peanut chip ice cream. There was a vegan ice cream option too and to be honest we couldn’t really tell them apart. Deliciously warm, very chocolatey and gooey with perfectly crispy pastry this was another little luxe treat on this mouth-watering menu which was fast becoming something of an endurance test.

And finally…a sweet, zesty, palette cleansing lemon and thyme posset with a shortbread crumb and poached rhubarb.

Read our piece on head chef James Durrant here: http://551.326.mywebsitetransfer.com/new-dad-and-head-chef-thames-james-durrant-comes-full-circle-after-moving-home-to-run-the-thatch-and-juggle-fatherhood/

A perfect finale for arguably the best ‘tasting’ menu we had ever tried. And it wasn’t just us – all of the guests gave the kitchen team a much deserved round of applause as they were presented to the dining room, and then we all had to slowly extract ourselves from our comfortable chairs and pretty much be wheeled out of the restaurant, waistbands noticeably tighter (and being subtley loosened on exit in some cases…)

The Thatch is highly recommended. The spring menu is excellent, and the staff are a delight. It is a beautiful building in a lovely town – just go and try it. You won’t be disappointed. Just don’t eat everything on the menu like we did.

Sarah Edwards

The Thatch, 29-30 Lower High Street, Thame, Oxon. OX9 2AA
Tel: 01844 214340