Are your eyes actually closed?” I asked my teenage son in amazement. Considering that 45 minutes earlier I’d been shouting at him to get out of bed, this was a complete turn-around of events.

Not that I could blame him – the rain was lashing down, we were all on Dry January so no one was drinking, and it was the perfect day for a lie-in, not the pub.

But then The Miller of Mansfield is no ordinary boozer, initially lulling you into a false sense of security when you pull up at the picturesque village inn in Goring.

“Why did I have to wear smart trousers?” my son asked sulkily, smart meaning jeans rather than tracksuit bottoms, but hey pick your battles.

Yet there he was, seated in The Miller of Mansfield in Goring, smart trousers and all, getting really stuck into a fabulous weekend lunch, much of which he ate with his eyes closed.

But then The Miller of Mansfield is that sort of place, and expecting a Scotch egg, pint of ale and maybe an Aunt Sally team kind of place was pleased to find the bar full of locals when we arrived, and not, to its credit, a Prosecco-swilling red trouser brigade. Instead old men sat drinking at the bar, ladies drank tea and families consumed soft drinks while staring disconsolately out at the rain.

The restaurant at the back on the other hand is a different story, revealing an homage to food, a well shod clientele, proper service and a front-of-house-married-to-the-chef partnership in the shape of Mary and Nick Galer, all of which boded well.

And while the lightning was a bit dim and the temperature could have been warmer, we were soon distracted by a wonderful bread board – bacon brioche with bacon butter wrapped in linen cloths, goguettes filled with onion creme fraiche like modern day vol au vents and some heartening sour dough with bright yellow salted butter. Dangerous. Remove it immediately so I can still manage lunch. Oh too late.

The kids menu, which we opted for just because the adult menu was quite, well adult, was simpler: sausage and chips preceded by crunchy veg.

But they tried the cod brandade with taramasalata, served like a croquette. The potato & Witshire truffle with parmesan polenta, quince and potato soup, I kept to myself, savouring its moussey soufflé texture with its foamed and crunchy top and soft insides, discovering the hint of sweetness at the bottom from the quince.

The cured gigha halibut with tomato fondue, caviar, chorizo and pickled cucumbers was equally as experimental (£9) – which perhaps needed more halibut and less caviar – a first world problem if I ever heard one.

Then the smoked black Angus steak with beef glazed carrot, Roscoff onions and shallot wed wine sauce, which came in at a steep £28, didn’t come with chips, and was certainly on the minimal side. Sliced and served on the plate, one mouthful of it’s 28-day promise dealt its soft blow. Cue much eye-closing and murmuring. “The beef just melts in the mouth,” my son managed. Mr Greedy was equally as mute.

The Jerusalem artichoke gnocchi came with cox apple chutney for a sour sweet knock, sprout hearts for crunch, crsipy skins for teeth grinding and Tunworth cheese for the sauce. The gnocchi wasn’t baked hard as is the new trend but instead infused with herbs and shaped like like bullet cases.

The poached Cornish cod with crab toast, braised chicory and golden beetroot (£23.50) was beautifully cooked, the bisque like crab sauce boasting a wonderfully rich depth. Again the mash was extra.

Service was swift and professional as the dining room continued to fill up well into its second innings by now.

The children’s menu included a chocolate brownie with ice cream which disappeared like a frog with a juicy fly but we chose from the a la carte. The spiced apple frangipani tart with green apple sorbet (£8.75) was rather over cloved for me.

The Manjari chocolate mousse with cocoa nibs, aged balsamic vinegar and coffee ice cream (£9) on the other hand was served like half a compass enveloped in molten chocolate and defied belief. Inside, the chocolate mousse was spiced like a florentine. with the texture of a Matchmaker. Yet its enveloping soft coat had hints of rose and fans hints of Turkish Delight would have loved it. Very clever.

The surprise addition was the brioche eggy bread with a hazelnut, pomegranate and yoghurt ice cream (£8.75) which was soft textured and comforting.

As if that wasn’t enough, a plate of macaroons arrived; a bright yellow passion fruit and white chocolate macaroon or a vibrant purple beetroot to choose from.

What a finish. What a lunch. So impressive. It reminded me of The Pointer at Brill.

This may be a fine dining kind of place, with prices to match, but it is also worth its weight in gold.

Worth getting out of bed for then!




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