The Thatch Inn is exactly what it says on the tin, a beautiful and welcoming 16th century thatched pub. Located on the main high street of historic market town, Thame, run by The Peach Pub group.
They have balanced finer dining brilliantly; with its modern crockery and linen napkins, the untouched olde world mahogany bar and slanted 16th century walls. Outside, a chic wooden terrace complete with fairy lights has been set up to replicate the indoor dining experience, as our friendly waitress told us.
Hospitality matters here
The team shared with us their favourite drinks and dishes and enthused about what they planned to try next. It remains, centuries later, a welcoming and reliable British inn; delivering a quality evening to locals and visitors from further afield is their aim – and they achieve this.
Head chef, James Durrant, has previously worked at The Angel in Long Crendon, The Mole in Toot Baldon, and The Fishes in Oxford (another Peach Pub). In fact, Bitten have been raving about James’ food over the lockdown with Peach home deliveries, have previously enjoyed our visits to The Fishes and rate The Thatch’s roasts.
James’ work at The Fishes was nominated by his peers for Caterer Magazine’s Acorn Awards ‘30 under 30′. Recognising the brightest prospects, he was in excellent company alongside chefs from the most acclaimed restaurants in the UK including; Gleneagles, Rothay Manor and The Pig hotels.
You won’t be stuck for choice
The Thatch’s June menu is surprisingly long, with 6 small plate options; 7 starters; 9 main courses; multiple steak options and sides. It was enough to tempt my fellow diner, who ordered the Thai spiced crab cake with coconut chilli dressing (£10). Main course was an 8oz rump cap steak with triple cooked chips, roasted tomato and watercress with Béarnaise sauce on the side (£19.75).
The crab cake brought memories of trips to South East Asia to mind. Its texture was firm but creamy, and the crispy breadcrumbs balanced it all with its burnt and caramelised flavour. Another fantastic addition was the bed of thinly peeled courgette with a fresh and summery coconut chilli dressing; a fresh and unexpected dish.
The steak was faultless; juicy and rich. Simply presented and executed perfectly to the requested medium and served with crispy and fluffy chips.
Dessert was a brilliantly simple and well executed, not-too-sweet apple tarte Tatin with vanilla ice cream (£7). Which, with it’s perfectly flaky and gooey pastry, brought back memories of trips to Paris.
I, on the other hand, opted to be led by the head chef and went for all seasonal specials. These were slightly cheaper than the main menu, which does hang around the £19-20 per main.
To start, I had black pudding scotch egg with confit garlic mayo and Bucksum leaf salad (£8.25). I recently discovered how much I love black pudding, with its herby, rich flavours. The soft centre, paired with crispy crust, and well-dressed salad, was a fantastic combination.
Main course was Jimmy Butlers pork belly, with rosemary and aubergine purée, beetroot, and a cider and mustard jus (£18.50). The pork was tender and juicy and I can never resist a bit of pork crackling. I ordered chips for the side, but the main was more than enough on its own. I’d never tried beetroot with pork before, but it was the perfect pairing; with its sharp, rich flavour and firmer texture, it was another great twist from the chef on the traditional, sweeter and usually softer apple pairing.
For dessert, I had the baked New York cheesecake with salted caramel sauce (£7.75). And Oh. My. God.
If this isn’t what you’re usually tempted by on a menu – this is the cheesecake to convert you. Not freezing cold from the fridge – but rather, slightly warm, incredibly soft, and melt-in-the-mouth from its perfectly timed bake in the oven. Along with a ginger and oat flavoured biscuit base to give it some texture, it was the best dessert I’ve had in years.
I’d return again and again just for another mouthful of that cheesecake.
The drinks were also first class, especially the aperitifs. We loved the Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut NV champagne (£9.50) which was not too dry and had a vanilla-like smoothness. They make a mean Negroni (£8.75) with Monkey 47 gin (drinkable straight IMO), with orange for a zesty aroma. The wine was a crisp South Africa Chenin Blanc, (5.50 175ml), personally selected by Peach co-owner, Jo Eames.
The monthly menus are an insight into the best of what James Durrant can do when given the opportunity to be inventive.
I look forward to seeing that cheesecake make an appearance again on the menu. But I won’t mind returning to try out more of James’ creations until then.
The Thatch’s menu changes monthly.
We dined as guests of The Thatch, all views remain our own.