A ‘must go’ place declared my husband as we drove back having enjoyed a superb three-course lunch in Thame.
We’d dined at The Black Horse which underwent restoration towards the end of last year and while many original features of the 16th century building are evident in the pub brasserie, they mix with modern furnishings and flourishes.
This mixing of two elements is very evident in the food too with dishes influenced by British pub classics and French brasserie favourites – the pub is part of Raymond Blanc’s White Brasserie chain after all.
Having been given the choice of the traditionally furnished Barn area or the light and airy Garden Room, we opted for the latter and turned our attention to the menu.
There is enough choice without it being overwhelming and we soon made our minds up – cheese souffle for me and snails for my husband, French touches to the menu very much in evidence there.
The cheese souffle came with a warm Cheddar sauce to pour over but I couldn’t resist trying the souffle on its own first. It was light and airy and the sauce really was the icing on the cake for want of a better comparison – rich, smooth and creamy, the sort of thing you don’t want to end.
The Burgundian snails came in a garlic herb butter with crusty bread and while they are definitely an acquired taste, my husband devoured the juicy little morsels at anything but snail’s pace and was quick to use the crusty bread to absorb the flavoursome butter.
Having had our tastebuds well and truly tantalised it was on to the mains and continuing the French theme I opted for the slow-cooked bœuf bourguignon, red wine, lardons, baby onions, mushrooms and smooth mash.
Assistant manager Andrew informed me the beef was indeed slow cooked – 23 hours in fact – and judging by the way the meat just fell apart when you looked at it every hour had been well worthwhile.
My husband decided to travel from France to India and went for the Malabar fish curry with toasted coconut, grilled king prawn, shallot crisps and coconut rice.
Subtle spices combined with the succulent fish and king prawn to make this a curry fit for royalty.
To accompany all these delicious dishes we were recommended the Marlborough Vidal Estate Sauvignon Blanc and true to the New Zealand sauvignons it was zesty and crisp and perfectly chilled.
Taking care to leave room for dessert and as the sun glinted through the glass roof, I chose the summer berry Pavlova with chantilly cream while my husband, who loves anything coconut went for more coconut rice, this time as pudding with passionfruit coulis, mango sorbet and a coconut crisp.
Both choices proved to be the perfect way to finish our respective lunches and judging by the satisfied looks on the faces of our fellow diners they had enjoyed their meals as much as we had.
If that continues The Black Horse will rein in diners, old and new.