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Friendly welcome keeps Greyhound on track
I often whizz past places in the car and wonder what they are like inside. A case in point is the Greyhound, situated just off the main carriageway of the A420 at Besselsleigh near Wootton.
For years this has caught my eye under different ownerships, but I had never ventured over the threshold until recently, when I deliberately made the ten-mile journey from the centre of Oxford to check it out.
First impressions last and the friendly welcome by deputy general manager Mark Campion was a very good start, and encouraged us to prop up the bar for a while before ordering our food.
It turns out that since last year the 400-year-old Greyhound has been owned by small pub company, Brunning & Price, and represents the only hostelry in what its website describes as the ‘South West’ region.
At the bar my eye was taken by the range of beers on offer, including Hookie bitter and an ale from Abingdon’s White Horse Brewery, which Mr Campion informed me were permanent fixtures along with a ‘house’ beer specifically produced for Brunning & Price pubs.
Tempted as I was by this array, I decided to make a start on the wine to accompany the meal, although I vowed to return to sample the beers, perhaps in the summer when I was more thirsty and could make use of the extensive garden.
Although the list was extensive, I thought it a bit pricey compared to many pubs, with most of the offerings costing upwards of £16.
So we chose the house white, Villa Moncaro Marche Bianco, which was dry, refreshing and happily quaffable with or without food, although it is debatable whether it was worth £13.95.
After a little gentle banter with one or two locals, we took the wine to the table, having placed our order at the bar.
For the first course we had chosen to share a charcuterie plate for two. This featured a selction from the rest of the starters, including parma ham and chicken liver pate, as well as salami and pickles, gherkins and home-made piccalilli with toasted granary bread on the side.
Served on a large plate, this was really more than enough to eat on its own. Despite having to share, my companion and I did not have to fight for each delicacy.
We were rather ashamed to leave some on the plate, but I was conscious of being able to manage my main course, which sounded as if it would be another significant portion.
And I was right. The beef, ale and mushroom pie with buttered mash and green vegetables was certainly sizeable.
The mash was creamy and the vegetables crisp but sadly the pie was a little hard.
At first I thought it was cooked in a separate dish until I realised it was the crust. The meat inside was tender and tasty enough, but trying to hack through the outer wall with my knife and fork, let alone my teeth, was too much of a challenge.
I eventually waved the white flag and left the crust on the plate as a ruined monument to my heroic efforts.
Meanwhile, across the table, there was no sign of the the smoked haddock and salmon fishcakes being left behind, but my companion would have liked more than just a tomato salad to go with it.
Good job we had had such a substantial starter.
Greedily, we cast our eyes over the dessert menu but it was just normal pub fare of dishes such as sticky toffee pudding or chocolate brownie, and so we decided to cut the calories and order coffee.
Make no mistake the Greyhound is a good pub with reasonable food, but at least some of it is being served at restaurant prices, which do not fit with what is on the plate.
We enjoyed the atmosphere and I would like to try the beers, but stick to the ‘lite bites’ menu if you want a reasonable lunch.