Witheridge Hill, Highmoor, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 5PF
Concealed behind mature trees, just off the road that connects Sonning Common and Nettlebed, the Rising Sun is one of Oxfordshire’s best hidden culinary gems. A short walk from the historic Marharajah’s Well, it’s an ideal place for lunch or dinner when visiting this Chilterns landmark. Enter through the pub’s garden, which comes alive in gorgeous greenery come summer, and you’ll soon find that Rising Sun’s interior is deceptively large, revealing a spacious and traditional dining area with the perfect ambience for intimate meals. For starters I chose the avocado bruschetta, comprising smashed avocado with roasted pepper hummus served with a griddled soda bread and delightful cucumber and mint salad. My companion opted for an adventurous crispy pig’s head croquette, served with apple and celeriac remoulade, apple sauce and pork jus. Each of our palates were enlivened and ready for more. The Rising Sun frequently changes its menu to bring visitors a wide range of flavours. To follow my impressive starter, I chose the pan-seared fillet of local free-range pork with apple and black pudding, completed by butternut squash, bacon and sautéed spinach – the dish was beautifully presented and seasoned to perfection. To complement her pork starter, my companion selected the burger of the day, which was a veritable feast of hand-pressed beefburger topped with lettuce, tomatoes, tomato and basil pesto, and gherkins in a brioche bun. Accompanied by a bowl of exquisitely crisp fries, these mains proved the perfect antidote to the cold night outside. For dessert, we selected a sticky toffee pudding and surprise chocolate special which combined crisp chocolate pastry with a hot, gooey chocolate pudding and chocolate ice cream. Each sweet was as delicious as it looked, which is quite a feat.