We enjoy The Plough in Kingham which has earned rave reviews as one of the best foodie pubs with rooms in the country
One week on and I can’t stop rabbiting on about my fairytale slice of Cotswold heaven… So I might as well tell you about it as well.
Kingham, out in the laciest Oxfordshire fringes, is the sort of honey-hued village that tourists dream about but rarely wake up to. The 17th century Plough, right opposite village green, canopied by an awesome oak, is arguably (from a visitor’s POV) its beating heart, throbbing with friendly, thirsty locals. Among this fun-loving crowd is the amazing Blur bassist and cheesemaker Alex James (who hosts The Big Feastival on his idyllic dairy farm) and his big family.
The Plough has won rave reviews and Gastro Pub awards as one of the UK’s best, earning foodie fame thanks to Great British Menu winner Emily Watkins. Since 2019 it’s been in the capable hands of Matt and Katie Beamish who have worked with the likes of Raymond Blanc, Jamie Oliver and Fergus Henderson, and for hotels across the country. Even if you’re a hotel-hopper of Princess and the Pea proportions, you’re sure to be won over by the full royal flush of hospitality.
Swathed in summertime blues in the middle of a tricky week, I was lucky enough to book into a room above the oak-beamed barn that was fit for a queen. Tucked into the eaves, this super-classy space was the perfect luxe crashpad for two hungry girls, with its rolltop bath, double vanity sink and humungous, comfortable bed big enough to accommodate a side of morris dancers (maybe next time).
Back down into the pub for that much-anticipated dinner and we were greeted by the smiley staff and punters with a welcome warmer than the weekend heatwave. The interior is achingly cool and quirky (think mismatched furniture and original art and photography on the wall, all for sale).
A rarity for me (I’m very decisive when it comes to food, and only food) the menu presents a challenge because all of the seasonal dishes conjure up pure magic. Matt and Katie continue Emily’s legacy of championing local artisan products and sourcing the best fresh, local ingredients in this fertile patch, resulting in first-world conundrums such as: “watercress, wild garlic and pea soup or Smoking Brothers teriyaki salmon tartar, with caviar, avocado & wasabi, radish & crostini…” And that’s just for starters. The chicken liver parfait, with crispy chicken skin, sauterne and the most adorable still-warm mini brioche was the ultimate choice, by the way, and I want it again.
Proving that this is a proper boozer rather than pretentious in the least, the mains include (I gawped, and, yes, also tried) a stunning fish & chips and an epic cheeseburger, all cooked on the new wood-fired grill and oven. But there was no food envy because I fell, hook, line & sinker, for my pan-roasted tender halibut, in white wine sauce, with asparagus, Cornish Mussels (which I don’t normally even like), samphire and little copper saucepan of new potatoes with hazelnuts (my new fave combo).
Afterwards, we devoured a carrot cake baked Alaska with blood orange sorbet but (rubbernecking at the nearby tables) the baked mint chocolate torte, meringue and fruit and sticky ginger cake with rum butterscotch sauce, lime curd and coconut sorbet seemed to hit the spot as well.
Throw in a couple of cosmic Cosmopolitans to start and bookend the meal with a couple of fat fingers of Cotswold Cream (which puts Baileys in the shade) and I was grinning like a Cheshire cat, having left all my troubles at home.
The pub has an amazing wine list, if that’s more your jam, and the friendly team recently launched a new outside catering service, The Potted Goose, for private parties.
As the lucky winner of our May competition is about to enjoy, the Plough’s Little Barn, a luxurious two-bed self-catering cottage 300m from the pub, sleeps four and includes wood burner, fully equipped kitchen, wifi and outdoor space with barbecue. I’d consider booking in for any kind of special occasion (or when there’s a y in the day of the week) as soon as I can.
And, just when the hype is at fever pitch, I have to say that the Plough offers what might just be Britain’s best breakfast – so heartwarming for your onward journey that I had to hunt down the source of the sourdough (Marks Cotswold Bakery) to buy some of that sourdough to take home…
Double rooms £150-£195 a night on a B&B basis. Little Barn from £375 a night on a B&B basis. Dog-friendly rooms £10 a night extra per dog. Call 01608 658 327 or visit The Kingham Plough.