Nestled between Banbury and Stratford there’s a tiny but rather gorgeous village, called Oxhill, which is home to The Peacock. A short drive from Moreton-in-Marsh, this was the perfect spot to meet with Claire, my friend from St Albans, one Friday lunch time.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I cannot natter and pick wisely from a menu at the same time, so I was secretly pleased when Claire said she was running a little late. I used those few precious moments to make my menu selections and get talking to the owner Mark; it turns out he likes to dabble on the horses at Cheltenham. During his time at The Peacock he’s built up a fab team around him. He mentioned the Corsican chef and his ability to whip up a mean jus - not a gravy mind - a jus.
Claire arrived, wine was poured and the weekend began.
I categorically asked Claire if she was going for two or three courses, and she said, ‘We should definitely go in for all three courses.’
Claire started off with a very creamy soufflé oozing with melted cheese. It was made with cheddar and parmesan, meaning double cheesy goodness. This was Claire’s favourite course. As for me, I went seasonal with a plate of buttered asparagus served with a poached egg and a top notch hollandaise sauce. Well, what can I say? You can’t really go wrong with that combo can you?!
Appetite whet, the main event arrived soon after. This was most definitely the winner for me. I ordered the braised lamb shoulder as we’ve been going meat-free for a lot of our meals at home, so this was a real treat. I absolutely love slow-cooked meat and will always opt for it over the more expensive cuts. It has so much flavour and is always beautifully tender and this lamb certainly ticked all those boxes. It was a hearty portion too and came with green beans wrapped in bacon and two fabulous fondant potatoes. These potatoes seem to be everywhere at the moment, or have I just been watching too much Masterchef?
Claire had the pie of the day which was steak and red wine and came with the creamiest mashed potato. I have to say, although I didn’t go in for a bite, it looked pretty amazing. The pastry held its own and played home to some proper chunky pieces of steak, but Claire did mention she would have liked a bit more red wine.
Plates cleared, the dessert menu was brought to the table. And it was at this point, Claire let me down. She bailed on me, feigned fullness (okay it might have been legit) and ordered a cup of coffee instead of something sweet! What kind of eating partner does that to you just as you’re about to go in for a sticky toffee pudding?! Well that was me well and truly shamed as the pig, so instead of going for the sickly and stodgy option, I ordered a light and healthy (ahem) vanilla panna cotta which just happened to come with a pot of salted caramel sauce.
If like me, you live in Cheltenham, you may think this is a little too far to drive for lunch, but top and tail it with a trip to Moreton-in-Marsh, Chipping Campden or Stow-on-the-Wold and you’ve got yourself a great day out with a bloody good lunch. In hindsight, I’d recommend going for two courses, it was rather piggish of me to have all three, as the portions aren’t stingy in the least. Dependent on your choices, two courses here will cost between £15 and £25. Not bad at all for a hearty lunch in an absolutely beautiful village.
What’s your favourite town to visit in the Cotswolds?