The Horseshoes is one of Witney’s oldest pubs. It has all the old charm of a country pub with a contemporary feel. It promises “amazing local ales, cracking wines, and classic pub food with a hint of sophistication.” All the food is sourced locally from local farms and producers.
The Horseshoes is led by Luke Champion and Alex Vaughan. Both local lads with a passion for hospitality who cut their teeth working in pubs and bars in London and Brighton before coming back to Witney with the dream of running their own pub. Opening the Hollybush, their sister pub over the road in 2015, The Horseshoes followed in January 2019.
We visited the Horseshoes on a very rainy Tuesday, which was fitting for trying their autumn menu of heart-warming comfort food.
The fire crackling, a Leon Bridge Spotify radio playlist playing – the mood already set for a lovely cosy pub evening.
We started by ordering the calamari and aioli (£7.50) and the pig’s head fritters (£8.50). The calamari was very lightly battered and came with a fresh slice of lemon; delicate and light, and aioli giving the perfect fresh citrus’ garlicky punch. A perfect portion size.
The pig’s head fritters came in the form of three really meaty cubes coated in breadcrumbs containing melt in the mouth pork, served with crackling and apple puree. There’s something really satisfying in knowing an animal is being used top to tail and something this delicious has been created. The apple puree gave a sweetness to the salty accompaniment of the small pieces of crackling balancing on top.
The starters kicked things off brilliantly, a lovely size, not too rich or heavy but enough to whet our appetites for the main course.
Holly had the Ale Braised Blade of Beef (£22) served with mashed potato, green beans and gravy. The beef was beautifully braised, melt in the mouth with hardly any fat. It had a really strong hit of ale with thick rich onion gravy, the perfect accompaniment to the buttery mash. The green beans were perfectly cooked. The perfect comfort food to get you through the cold dreary winter months!
Rachel ordered the pie of the day – chicken and tarragon (£17). The Horseshoes has gained a strong reputation because of their pies, a popular lockdown staple for the residents of Witney. They’re often a sell-out so our expectations were high and we were not disappointed. The pastry was light but buttery and the chicken was incredibly tender, cased in a creamy filling with a nice hint of tarragon. The chicken fell apart in the sauce and the smooth buttery mash went perfectly.
It’s safe to say we were pretty full at this point. However, our waitress raved about the blackberry and apple crumble (£7). We’d also already spotted one of our favourite desserts, sticky toffee pudding (£6.50). So, we ordered both!
The crumble was sensational, possibly the best we’ve ever had! It was crunchy and the tartness of the blackberries against the sweetness of the chunky bits of apple with the generous jug of delicious light vanilla custard was simply heavenly.
The sticky toffee pudding was equally delicious, a rich toffee sauce and a dense pudding with an almost caramelised bottom. This isn’t a pud for the light-hearted, particularly after two other courses but only a morsel was spared as it was too good to leave.
The pub has a lovely warm atmosphere, very attentive service without being overpowering and great for us as they are also very dog friendly.
The pub has plenty of seating options, from large round window tables to little nooks for two, as well as a lovely bar area for drinks. This pub is understated whilst still feeling special. We’ll definitely be back.
The Horseshoes also offer a fixed price lunch menu which changes weekly.
Their infamous Pie night started again on the 6th October and will take place every Wednesday after that.
We dined as guests of The Horseshoes, all views remain our own.