What is drawing foodies in to this tucked-away inn? Sandra Carter goes back to nature...

You can’t be serious? Butter fermented in a local bog, smoked tomato, not a hob or oven in sight…

No, The Mash Inn isn’t serious. It treats food as fun.

And the result is so stunning that the little inn in Bennett End near Radnage has been winning accolades since opening in 2016.

It’s just been rated among the 100 best in Britain in the National Restaurant Awards (one of just three in Bucks).

Almost everything is cooked over an open fire of wood and charcoal in the open kitchen.

Chef Jon Parry’s team are also passionate about foraging locally and using whatever the farmers or their garden produce that day.

And they pickle, cure, ferment and infuse almost anything that grows.

The Daily Menu (£60) labels the first course ‘snacks’.

Ask owner Nick Mash what they are and he grins: “Wait and see and enjoy the surprise.”

Cue smiles all round as a series of ‘snacks’ come in for each diner: flatbread oozing fermented wild garlic butter, a rainbow of freshly picked crudites with hay mayo, an amazing little crab tart with pickled radish, lamb sweetbread with soy, maple, miren, and bog butter hollandaise smothering a burnt leek (ie singed over the coals).

Bog butter is magic: butter is wrapped in rosemary and muslin, hidden in a bog nearby for four months to ferment to a delicate blue cheese flavour, then boiled up to purify.

“It’s bonkers,” Chris smiles, “and everyone loves it. It’s an ancient way of storing dairy.”

The tomato consomme that follows has had a 48-hour process of infusing and extracting, and as with every dish, the result is subtle and intriguing flavours.

Today’s main course cote de boeuf is generous and beautifully cooked over the flames.

And what does a creative chef do with a baked potato? Oil it with smoked wagu fat and top with home made creme fraiche.

Our dessert is a rich chocolate cream with poached apricots and yoghurt snow, its little pot covered with a tuille and ruby choc shavings.

Lift the tuille and a puff of woodsmoke comes up, infusing the dessert with a unique savour.

Believe me, it all works.

See themashinn.com for more.