A few weeks ago I visited The James Figg to try out their Sunday Roast. The James Figg hadn’t been somewhere I’d considered visiting in recent years. After all, there’s the fellow Peach Pub owned The Thatch, known for its elegant and creative dishes, as well as The Black Horse, serving good food in a recently renovated gastropub interior. There are endless options in Thame, so finding a USP in the marketplace must be tough for these publicans. I was excited to see how The James Figg was going to stand out from the crowd.
Entering through the front door, I was greeted by friendly staff, stood behind a mahogany bar spanning the length of a narrow room. Locals perched on their seats were sipping pints by the front window.
We opted to sit outside, since the majority of their outside seats are covered, and my dad had cycled over. It was a pleasant surprise to find this was a large space with shrubbery, covered tables as well as benches with umbrellas for when the sun is shining. It has a relaxed atmosphere, with families stopping for their Sunday roasts, groups of young friends out drinking and, as in my Father’s case, cyclists stopping to refuel. The team were helpful, allowing us to store the bike against the garden wall that ran the length of the outside terrace.
The inside of the pub isn’t particularly stylish; red booths and a wall dominated by a large screen show the pubs age. However, the second wooden cladded bar towards the back of the pub, raised plant beds, fairy lights and the uniform red umbrellas are a sign of the care and attention given to the newer additions to the pub.
I was very happy to see the roast options and how reasonable they were, each costing £15.50; Aubrey’s 28-day dry-aged topside of beef, leg of Cornish lamb, Jimmy butler’s free-range pork belly with stuffing, as well as a vegetarian butternut squash and mushroom nut roast option.
Other mains were available too; scampi and chips (£14.50) and an Asian vegetable salad (11.50) with options of grilled halloumi (£2.50) or crispy duck (£3.25). They also served bar snacks such as leek and potato soup with bread (£6), and scotch eggs (£5.50).
We each opted for a roast; I chose the pork, and my father the lamb. As well as being favourites of ours, I couldn’t resist all the generous sides that accompany them; Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, roasted roots, seasonal veg and gravy.
The menu also had a section titled, ‘make the most of your roast,’ including cauliflower cheese (£3.75) and pork stuffing balls (£3.30). Since this was something I certainly wanted to do, I ordered both.
Generous and classic
We were impressed if a little overwhelmed when our roasts arrived. Our plates were filled with generous portions of meat, parsnips, one whole roast potato, a handful of green beans, carrots and broccoli, all hidden under Yorkshire’s as large as my head. The volume of vegetables could have fooled me it was healthy, if it wasn’t for the accompanying gravy.
Then came the extras I’d so enthusiastically, or optimistically, ordered; creamy, piping hot cauliflower cheese and the stuffing balls delivering the flavour of pigs without the blankets – genius.
Best of all, a full jug of additional, rich meaty gravy accompanied our food.
Having visited follow Peach Pub, The Thatch, I’d suspected the wine options would be good. We went with the Argentinian Malbec (£25) which was perfect with the gravy, pork and lamb.
The roast was a mix of the kind of generous portions we can usually only count on at home, with the beautifully prepared and cooked meat I couldn’t achieve myself. Not to mention the brilliant extras – from crispy roast potatoes, not overcooked, cheesy cauliflower and those inventive pork stuffing balls.
I’d definitely be keen to see some more twists like that on the menu next to the classics.
Surprisingly, we did find room for two desserts, and not so surprisingly, they were wholesome and well-executed. I couldn’t resist the bread and butter pudding (£6) with my father opting for the spiced apple crumble (£6) available with custard or ice cream. The crumble had plenty of crumble and was generously portioned. The bread and butter pudding was a welcome light and sweet end to my meal.
This was the kind of roast that usually lives in my expectations alone, so often let down in reality by small portions laid out in front of me on a Sunday.
Not so at The James Figg, where proper roasts rule and substantial and generous is their USP.
We dined as guests of The James Figg, all views remain our own.