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|Address:||Reading Road, Shiplake, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG9 4BX|
|Tel:||0118 940 2794|
|Price: £41.00||Wine: £16.95||Champagne: £45.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sun 11am-11pm|
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It took me a while to stop peering round the dining room to see if Nicholas Lyndhurst had just stepped through the door, as arriving at The Plowden Arms, is – in the style of 90s sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart – a little like stepping back in time to the 1940s; topped off by the glamorous manageress (perfectly coiffured hair, cherry red lipstick and Land Girl style “slacks”); and Gin Fizz (forgotten cocktail of the month)
And the time-travel doesn’t stop there. The menu explicitly celebrates traditional British dishes that would make Mrs Beeton and Elizabeth David proud, albeit served with a flourish that mixes contemporary gastro-pub stylings with a healthy dollop of chintz: Whitebait (in a deliciously light tempura style batter) came served in a cone of newspaper on a wooden chopping board; whereas the mains (steak with bone marrow and Sea trout, mussels and shrimps) were presented on mis-matched blue and white china.
Each dish was well prepared, and made full use of inventive ingredient combinations, whilst maintaining a solid foot in tradition. Perhaps a little heavy handed on seasoning, and the toilets are more country pub than gourmet restaurant, but otherwise a great foodie find in an unassuming Brakespear Pub in Shiplake