I recently had the pleasure of visiting The Black Horse pub in Thame. The upmarket yet unpretentious pub serves a great mix of traditional pub favourites and French inspired dishes.
On arrival, it was good to see clear safety measures the pub had taken due to the current climate. At the entrance was hand sanitiser, a track & trace QR code to scan, plus clear rules displayed on a chalkboard. Once inside, staff all wore face coverings (masks or visors), arrows guided us around the pub to help with distancing, signs reminded customers to wear face masks, and screens divided some of the tables.
We were greeted and welcomed to our table, tucked away in a cosy corner in the bustling dining room. Despite the pub being busy on a Saturday afternoon, we received great service throughout and never felt we waited for long. Our waitress, Lauren, also recommended a French Malbec that went down an absolute treat with my duck main.
I was a big fan of the tasteful décor…
…wooden tables & chairs, plenty of lighting and other decorative additions including cushions, mirrors and plants. There was also a cosy booth for larger groups scattered with chequered cushions, which certainly looked inviting.
To start, we ordered Mediterranean fish soup (£7.85) and a baked Saint-Marcellin (£8.50), a soft French cow’s milk cheese. The Mediterranean fish soup was served with plenty of gruyere cheese, croutons and saffron rouille. The soup was delicious and creamy and the croutons crispy. I thoroughly enjoyed melting the gruyere into the soup and the saffron rouille was a tasty, rich addition.
The Saint-Marcellin cheese was topped with truffled honey, and served with bread, celery and apple to dunk. The cheese was perfectly melted and its nutty flavour balanced well with the sweetness of honey and hint of truffle. I am a HUGE cheese fan, so this was always going to be a strong choice in my book. For mains, we had the confit duck leg (£18.50) and boeuf bourguignon (£17.75). The confit duck leg was so tender and flavoursome, paired extremely well with citrusy sauce and orange zest. The duck skin could have been crispier, but that’s my personal preference. Carrots were a nice mix of sweet and salty and the dauphinoise was tasty and velvety. Seasoning and flavours were balanced perfectly throughout the meal: not once did either of us reach for the salt and pepper.
Slow cooked boeuf bourguignon was an ideal comforting main for a miserably rainy Saturday.
The beef was pink and tender, the sauce rich and the mash silky smooth. My boyfriend is a serious mash critic (he’s Northern, so of course he is), and always complains I don’t put enough butter in or mash them smooth enough, but he gave this mash a big thumbs up!
Despite feeling full at this point, I couldn’t resist ordering chocolate fondant with spiced orange & passionfruit sauce (£7.25). It also came with orange crémeux (directly translates to ‘creamy’ in French), which I hadn’t tried before – and it didn’t disappoint. The fondant was gooey and rich, pairing beautifully with the smooth, light crémeux. Totally worth the food coma that was heavily approaching.
This was my first visit to The Black Horse and certainly won’t be my last!
Given the high quality of food and service, the prices are reasonable, and I’m already considering returning. It’s also worth noting The Black Horse is now taking Christmas bookings. You can find their Christmas day menu & Christmas party menu below.
My personal highlights: the duck main, the orange crémeux, the cosy atmosphere and great service.
We were provided this meal free of charge for review purposes; all views remain our own.