I basically visit Thame for two reasons – my friend Liza, who makes a mean (and VERY strong) cocktail, and to visit The Thatch. I’ve been a bunch of times but never written a full review, so what better than to mix the two. Liza and colleague Paul in tow, we arrived at The Thatch on a Monday lunchtime for a spot of #MondayMotivation in the form of a good pub chow down.
Having recently undergone a refurbishment, we seated ourselves in the rear dining room, fully resplendent with new botanical wallpaper, fresh upholstery in a combination of blue and burgundy leather, velvet and plaid. To top it all off we had a dappling of Autumn sunlight peeking through the french doors.
After a bit of nattering, we ordered a selection board to start, along with a special of prawn croquettes which I forgot to note the price of, but am sure was around £6/7. The ‘Favourites Board’ (£14.75) consisted of petite but tasty, sweet and spicy chicken wings, plus a delicious Devon crab perched on top of a very questionable buttered crumpet. We’d have much-preferred something crisper and thinner, like a nice toasted sourdough or melba toast. The crab itself was delicious, but the crumpet too flaccid. The platter also came with tomato houmous with toasted pitta – very nice but a little uninspiring – plus smoked mackerel and horseradish pâté on toast, which was delicious. Thepâté hit a real high note with the three of us, and the wings and Devon crab were equally enjoyable, swap out the crumpet for something crispy and change the houmous for something cheesy (or the following croquettes) and you’d be in sharing platter heaven.
The plump prawn croquettes were polished off in no time; generously filled with prawns and served with some leaves and a swipe of pleasant lemony mayo.
We went all out on the mains – we couldn’t decide between a beef wellington from the specials board (I forgot to note the price for this too, but around £23), a braised lamb shoulder (£18.50) and a duck breast with dauphinoise potato and cherry sauce (£22.50) – so we ordered all three to share.
If you’d have seen our faces when they arrived at the table, you’d have thought we hadn’t eaten for days.
All three dishes looked stunning. The duck breast was plump and pink with a wonderfully rendered down skin, sat on top of a rectangle of buttery yellow dauphinoise and drizzled in sauce. The beef came cut in two, with blush interior and crispy thin pastry on show, perched neatly on a little pile of tenderstem broccoli and quenelle of mash, with a mini jug of sauce on the side. For the lamb, a cylinder of juicy meat sat atop a mound of vegetables, like a castle on a hill, all doused in glistening minty gravy.
Very impressive so far, but did it taste as good as it looked?
Yes, it was stunning.
The lamb was almost falling apart it was so beautifully cooked. The duck, well that was just exquisite. Crispy skin and delicious meat, which went beautifully with the cherry sauce and dauphinoise – who can argue with dauphinoise?! The beef, well that was prepared and cooked perfectly. Everything from the pastry, to the crepe layer, mushroom duxelle and beef were without fault. Everything was well seasoned, I didn’t reach for the salt or pepper pots once, and the accompanying sauces were professionally executed.
How do you follow that? Well, lightly. We were pretty stuffed by this point. We chose a selection of Eton mess and blackberry cheesecake to share between three (both £6/7).
The mess was rather large in proportion, a full sundae glass in fact and full of berries and meringue – I do hate a mess of the wrong proportions. The blackberry cheesecake was a great combination of sweet and sharp, in a striking shade of fuchsia, and not overly heavy.
While the starters may not have all been on point, the puddings were great and the mains impeccable – and I don’t use such glowing praise freely. While the mains are on the steep side of pub pricing, they were all well worth the price tags and left us with a feeling of happy contentment. We didn’t feel the need for sides to bolster out the mains either. Staff were excellent and the surroundings warm, stylish and clean. Plenty of reasons for a return visit.
Monday – Wednesday: 9am – 11pm
Thursday: 9am – 11.30pm
Friday: 9am – 12am
Saturday: 10am – 12.30am
Sunday: 10am – 11pm
We dined as guests of The Thatch