It was a pivotal moment when the earth stopped spinning for a nano-second and my taste buds took a deep breath.

My mind spun backwards in time, settling on childhood memories of grand Sunday lunches boasting three generations, relatives and friends dropping in for one of my father’s superlative roasts, wine flowing, conversation jovial, and my mother’s wonderful desserts.

The rarest, and my absolute favourite, was The Queen of Puddings, a Victorian monstrosity of suitable excess; boasting flouncing meringue, hot jam and custard and an aerated texture like a souffle. I can’t tell you how good it was, and yet, last week, for one crystallised moment I was sitting back at the long polished dining table, the taste of burnt sugar, whisked egg whites, and homemade blackberry jam right there on the tip of my tongue.

One can get relatively blasé about the endless meals imbibed when you eat for a living, but now and again a dish comes along that rips away your detachment and jolts you out of such reverie.

And The Greyhound in Letcombe Regis does just that.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise mind you. The winning team of Phil Currie and Lidia Dhorne, poached several years ago from The Killingworth Castle, guaranteed the immediate success of the renosed pub near Wantage.

Lidia, is the best front-of-house known to man while Phil’s dexterity in the kitchen is renowned.

And yet it had been a few years since I’d tracked them down, Letcombe Regis being hard to find at the best of times, buried away in the depths of South Oxfordshire.

The car park alone was enough to reassure me, cars stretched bumper to bumper, telling me everything I needed to know about The Greyhound’s ongoing popularity before I’d even stepped in the door.

It’s not a pretentious place, preferring to rely on it’s rural location for inspiration than anything more ‘gastro’. Traditional tables and chairs, a fireplace, neat curtains, less is certainly more in this countryside retreat.

Locals thronged the bar and midway through dinner the villagers amassed having completed the final leg of a Safari party, eating a different course in each house, proving that it’s still a proper village pub rather than an out-of-towners haven.

We carried on oblivious, by then utterly entranced by Phil’s concoctions proffered in a continually blissful stream from the kitchen.

A quick heads up: his souffles are legendary, and his desserts a must. That’s not to detract from everything in between, but it means choosing from the menu takes time.

The £7 twice baked Leonard Stanley Gloucestershire cheddar souffle with smoked haddock chowder (try saying that after you’ve had a few), obviously had my name on it, and we ordered the beetroot and heritage potato salad with whipped goats cheese and a raspberry vinaigrette (£6.50) the cheese’s bitterness softened, offset by the tart raspberry and earthy beetroot. The crab and avocado poppy seed bagel with confit lemon and radish was a refreshing and summery amalgamation of seasonal and fresh elements bringing thoughts of the seaside to the depths of Oxfordshire encased in its own home made bagel.

The roasted romano pepper stuffed with wild rice, spinach, rocket puree, halloumi, garlic, pine nuts and herbs was similarly reminiscent of Mediterranean climes (£13.50) while the roast hake fillet with pea puree, ham and black pudding croquettes, peas, mustard veloute, crisp ham and mint oil, similarly impressive (see pic).

The blackcurrant Queen of Puddings (£6.50! for Gods sake) was a given, arriving in a ramekin with piped meringue encasing the delights beneath. The forced rhubarb Swiss roll involved poached rhubarb, chilled custard and pistachio (£6.50, yet rather lacking in bold flavours. The lime and mango cheesecake with an almond biscuit, crystallised ginger and coriander arrived with the sorbet glistening like a giant egg yolk.

Impressive at the very least , this is one of Oxfordshire’s best food retreats.


The Greyhound Inn, Main Street, Letcombe Regis, Wantage, OX12 9JY.

01235 771969