Rotherfield Greys, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 4QD
The Maltsters Arms resides in a 250-year-old coach house, attracting customers from near and far. Sitting in the idyllic space next to a Saxon church, this traditional venue in the small village of Rotherfield Greys boasts a covered courtyard and beer garden. With passionate landlords George and Calum at the helm, the past two years has been spent transforming the ethos of the venue to actualise their own vision of the long-fabled perfect pub. A trim and tailored menu of regularly changing favourites, such as a great seasonal pie and lovely fish and chips, complements a specials board that offers a range of exciting additions. A fantastic three-course roast is available every Sunday, which features delights such as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding as well as roast leg of lamb and mint sauce served with all the trimmings. The exceptionally knowledgeable and friendly staff are always on-hand to share the provenance of the ingredients. The level of service at Maltsters Arms really sets it apart, as does the team’s commitment to catering for all dietary requirements, providing options for vegan and gluten-free diners. To start I chose the smoked mackerel with chive and new potato salad – a light and flavoursome summer dish. My dining partner opted for the pigeon breast served with shallot and apple confit and Calvados cream sauce. The lamb rump with hasselback potato, roasted courgette, tomato and salsa verde was a delightful, seasonal treat. The pan-fried cod with cannellini bean and spinach cassoulet left my dining partner suitably sated. Our desserts arrived in resplendent style and two firm favourites were chosen: blackberry and apple crumble with custard, and the sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice cream, and both exceeded even our high standards. If you’re not sweet-toothed, perhaps plump for a selection of British cheeses to conclude your meal.