Food review: The Arbour does not disappoint with its simple yet flavoursome menu (From Bucks Free Press)
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Food review: The Arbour does not disappoint with its simple yet flavoursome menu
THE Arbour in Pinkneys Green feels just like a good pub and restaurant should- warm and welcoming. And the food, which has an emphasis on simple flavours yet quality produce, does not disappoint.
I'm embarrassed to say I had to look up what The Arbour means, and the dictionary definition didn't really help (a framework that supports climbing plants). But the less than catchy name aside the new owners know how to impress.
Alex Walker, 28, worked at the pub as a manager when the majority of customers were men (about 70-80 per cent) and sales of drink were 65-75 per cent beer. But when the former owners decided to call it a day Alex asked his parents, Jim and Lindsay, if they would be willing to invest.
In February they bought the pub and in May reopened after a huge refurbishment. The clientèle is now 70 per cent female and drink sales 80 per cent wine.
Jim said this was their aim, as they hoped to make it more accessible to females and somewhere they would feel comfortable.
Lindsay did the design of the pub, which is indeed friendly. It has quirky items on the walls, yet is not distasteful. They were the kind of items you would find in small, little gift shops in quaint villages and something which I love.
Both parents, who have a property in Cookham but also spend time in Menorca, Spain, have had a career in catering.
Jim said: "We saw it as an opportunity and the idea is we take on another one in Marlow or Henley. The idea is we will have three and Alex will be running all three."
And he said their emphasis is on quality, simple food in a welcoming environment. I went along on a Gourmet Evening, which at the moment is every six weeks, but after the positive feedback from customers, may become a monthly thing.
There is indeed a nice, relaxed friendly atmosphere and the pub gradually filled up whilst we were there.
The staff were helpful, polite and knowledgeable especially Alex who was attentive but not overbearing.
There were six courses with six different wines from head chef Josh Overington. We had to skip some of the wines, which were served in 100ml, and could only taste others.
Firstly we were brought out an Artisan Mini Loaf, served with oil and olives. The white bread was fluffy and light inside and crisp on the outside and was divine dipped into the oil and balsamic vinegar.
The olives were small yet packed full of flavour. Alongside this we had a taste of NV Prosecco Brut from Argeo, Ruggeri, which was fresh and crisp and easy to drink.
We then went onto the Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup, which was made with a selection of wild mushrooms with added truffle oil. It was delicious and was densely packed with mushrooms, which had a strong, pleasant flavour, made even stronger by the truffle oil. This was served with a Hutton Ridge Chenin Blanc 2011 (Fair trade from South Africa). I am not a huge fan of white wine but this was amazingly light and had such fresh flavours I certainly liked this one.
Next up was the Seared Tuna, which was grilled with a nut crust, chilli tartar, grilled courgette and herb dressing. My friend, Lucy, who thought she didn't like tuna was a convert.
It had a grilled flavour to the mild fish, which had a lovely texture. With the delectable chilli tartar and thinly sliced marinated courgette this was a wonderful interlude. This was served with a Merlot Resvera Hugo Casanova Estate 2007 (Chile) which was a deep red with smooth flavour and a long finish.
Following this was Freshly made tagliatelle with freshly made pesto and locally sourced ruby charred Spenwood cheese. This was very rich with strong flavours but as the name suggests so fresh and delightful. We skipped the Sauvignon Blanc Fortress Hill 2010 (SA).
With another clean plate gone we then went onto the Pan-fried Saddle of Venison, with celeriac puree Calva Nero, air dried ham and Venison chocolate stew. Again another delightfully rich dish. The venison was perfectly cooked and did not taste too strong. The celeriac added a creamy texture to the chocolate stew, which although it sounds strange married very well with the venison. The chocolate is from Willie's Chocolate in Marlow. This was served with a lovely red wine called Kalumpie and CO Cabernet Sauvignon (SA).
Then to the final course which was Baked Vanilla Custard, with Lancashire triangle rhubarb compote. This was so sweet and creamy packed full of vanilla seeds. The tart rhubarb took away the richness of the custard. We missed the dessert wine which was Chenin Blanc Desert Wine Meerendal 2008 (SA).
This sounds like a very big claim but I don't think I could fault this meal.
Every dish was carefully thought out and full of so many different flavours which worked well together.
Jim said that the menu leans towards fine dining but at lunch diners can order Cottage Pie or Steak.
He said they want to customers to feel comfortable, which I really did. And along with the amazing food I cannot see why another venue should not be opening soon.
The Arbour in Pinkneys Green is at http://www.thearbourgroup.co.uk/
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