Venturing out on a chilly Sunday night turns into a truly memorable experience for KATHERINE MACALISTER
Immense,” Mr Greedy announced after carefully putting down his knife and fork.
“That’s the best meal that I’ve had in a long, long time.” For someone who eats out as much as he does that’s saying something, but I was in absolute agreement for once, because The Chequers in Burcot had blown us away.
Between Berinsfield and Dorchester, it’s quite out of the way, and we had to force ourselves out on a chilly Sunday night, but I will be eternally grateful for making the effort. The sparse scattering of cars in the car park showed that the rest of the population had had similar misgivings, but on entering our hopes were instantly revived.
Jade, the front-of-house, and partner to chef Steve Anderson, cheerfully welcomed us, explaining it was the first time she’d had a breather after a massively busy Sunday lunch.
With a great wine list to choose from and some stonking local beers we were seated in the restaurant side of the pub and after arguing about who would have what, Mr Greedy won and opted for the much sought after cauliflower soup with blue cheese toasties, cauliflower crisps and saffron oil (£6.50), while I chose the smoked mackerel pate with pickled cucumber, paprika tuille, lemon and black pepper jelly, and horseradish creme fraiche (£7). Come to daddy.
The soup was divine and yes I did have food envy, but the pate was also so, so delicious I couldn’t complain. It was the attention to detail which was so astonishing.
And then the mains arrived, adding to the growing realisation that we had discovered somewhere really quite special.
The rib-eye steak (£21), which Steve prides himself on, only confirmed this, and was “one of the nicest pieces of steak I’ve ever had,” according to Mr Greedy who was on a roll. It came with a homemade mushroom ketchup, a perfectly poached large tomato wobbling with juiciness, the crispiest, saltiest, most divine chips in the history of mankind (triple cooked) and a peppercorn sauce.
My wild mushroom millefeuille (£16) was equally as beautiful, a perfectly poised tower of pastry interspersed with layers of creamy mushrooms, caramelised onion and baby spinach. Each mouthful was a gift.
As for the Dauphinoise potato, Steve had obviously baked it and then cut a tight, neat slice which he then gently pan-fried, serving it as a rectangle. I can’t tell you how good it was.
Panting in amazement and excitement we ploughed on, and when Jade offered us the dessert menu we couldn’t resist because it was packed with exciting entries.
I turned down the wonderful-sounding pineapple and ginger cake, which sounded too filling, and settled on the sweetcorn pannacotta with popcorn ice cream, caramel sauce, and salt caramel popcorn (£6.50). Him indoors had the passionfruit and vanilla cheesecake with grapefruit and orange salad and honeycomb (£6.50).
The glorious smell of the cheesecake dish when it arrived captivated us with its citrusy fresh zing and tasted as good. The jury’s out about my sweetcorn pannacotta. It was very clever and the popping candy hissed when it arrived, but as a puree it wasn’t for me. Plus I like my pannacotta in the traditional upturned pot shape not a slab, but details, details. In fact it was probably a blessing in disguise because I could scarcely fit it in anyway.
So there we go, immense yes, but also utterly wonderful, and an absolute must. Go. Steve’s cooking deserves much more recognition.
- The Chequers, Abingdon Road, Burcot, Oxon. OX143DP. CALL 01865 407771.