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A pretty roadside pub rescued from mediocrity by passionate owners Ruth and Matt Woodley, The Plowden gives a deliciously historical flavour to British cooking. Low, white-panelled ceilings festooned with hop branches, mahogany tables, antique cutlery and a candelabra match a menu brimming with step-back-in-time inspiration. Matt loves Victoriana, updating ‘soles in coffins’ as expertly cooked lemon sole perched on hollowed-out potato skins in a glossy girolle-mushroom sauce; likewise, devilled kidneys are teamed with lamb’s lettuce, croûtons and a silky cauliflower purée. Neither the approach nor the pricing are outlandish; pheasant terrine paired with apple jelly costs £6.95, for instance. Desserts might feature Trinity cream (the original crème brûlée), sticky toffee pudding with its own boat of butterscotch sauce, or gin and tonic sorbet and meringue. Even the drinks list incorporates ‘forgotten’ cocktails alongside well-kept ales and a broad but kindly priced wine list. Efficient staff lend effervescence to an evening.
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