Dining Out: The Navigation Inn, Thrupp Wharf, Cosgrove, Northamptonshire

Their website draws your attention to a creditable list of eleven honours bestowed on the pub over the last seven years including All Day Dining Pub of the Year and Best New Pub/Bar both in 2015. Any pub listing Rod Stewart as General Manager gets my seal of approval.

I first visited The Navigation Inn at Cosgrove over thirty years ago so not surprisingly its changed a little during the intervening years. It still attracts `locals` from nearby Cosgrove village and passing trade from the nearby A508 Northampton to Milton Keynes and the A5 is less than a mile away but most punters would need to make use of the large car park at the side of the pub. Cosgrove Marina and park are all within easy walking distance on the east side of the canal and river Great Ouse.

Long gone is the old raised covered seating area and trestle tables packed across the lawns at the rear of the pub now replaced by some superb modern clean decking and sheltered seating which overlooks the Grand Union canal and surrounding countryside for that all important al fresco dining for those warm summer evenings.

The Navigation was built in 1876 the Victorian pub nestling amongst a cornucopia of farm and agricultural buildings including a wharf yard, corn warehouses, a weighing house, a lime kiln, stabling for 11 horses, a coach house, a brew house, granaries, piggeries, a walled garden, cottages and 21 acres of pasture and arable land.

On entering the pub at the front entrance there is a fireplace to the left with some comfortable seating and a long bar to the right which extends to a smaller section of the dining room. The main restaurant can be accessed from the car park up some steps leading to the open terrace feature.

The restaurant welcomes family groups so on the evening I visited there were a number of children and babies amongst the diners. It is a large pub with seating for a number of tables but you would be advised to book a table as the Navigation is very popular most evenings and weekends. The smoke from the roaring log fire was a welcome sight on a cold winters evening.

There was plenty of choice on the Mediterranean-inspired menu including handmade pizzas, pasta, fish, meat and sharing platters. We decided to pass on the choice of nine starters available and opted to choose three appetisers from the `Nibbles` selection.

PORK BELLY BITES £4.50 Apple sauce, crackling.
SICILIAN OLIVES (V) £3.00 Marinated in extra virgin olive oil, chilli, garlic and herbs.
SOURDOUGH BREAD AND OIL (V) £3.00 Extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar.
The nibbles were served in small pots and satisfied our taste buds and hunger perfectly while we waited for the main courses. The sourdough was very light as it should be.

SLOW BRAISED OSSO BUCO: £17.00 Brandy, green peppercorn and borettane onion sauce glazed osso buco (braised veal shanks) on potato dauphinoise.
My wife chose the veal shank observing that the hollow bones contained appetising rich, marrow which was delicious. The meats creamy consistency sat well alongside the potato dauphinoise and onion sauce. Not only did it taste delightful there was also a large bowl of meat to satisfy my wife`s appetite.

POLLO E PANNA: £11.00 Torn British chicken, rosemary, white wine cream sauce, sautéed porcini, button and portobello mushrooms.
A beautifully presented Italian mushroom pasta dish sprinkled at my request with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. A simple Italian pasta dish of chicken simmered in cream and white wine. The trio of mushrooms fused with Rosemary helped provide a perfect and subtle marriage of flavours. One of my favourite Italian dishes beautifully cooked.

Mascarpone, meringue, smashed Italian biscuits, soaked morello cherries, toasted hazelnuts.

Chocolate brownie pieces, crushed biscuit, sliced bananas, vanilla ice cream, toffee sauce, whipped cream.

My wife described this Argentinian classic wine as having an aromas of black fruit, jam and vanilla. £11.25 (250ml) If you are planning to have three glasses of this wine in your group it would be better to share a bottle at £30.

Brakspear Bitter: (3.4% ABV) I love draught beer so I chose to sup a pint of the quintessential Oxfordshire beer Brakspear. The bitter is famed for its strength and depth of flavour. Amber in colour with a good fruit, hop, and malt nose it is a fine beer to drink alongside any meal. The initial taste of malt and well-hopped bitterness dissolved into a bitter-sweet and fruity finish. A perfect pint.

My wife and I really enjoyed our evening visit to the Navigation and are already planning to visit again in the Spring or Summer as we would like to sit outside on the terrace and watch the narrow boats pass almost beneath us and look out across the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside. A wonderful meal in a pub full of history and agreeable surroundings.


The Navigation Inn, Thrupp Wharf, Cosgrove, Northamptonshire.
Value for money: Good
Food: Wonderful, well presented classic Italian dishes.
Service: Welcoming and efficient
Parking: There is plenty of parking to the left hand side of the pub.
Address: Thrupp Wharf, Station Road, Cosgrove, MK19 7BE
Telephone: 01908 926270
Email: navigation@oakmaninns.co.uk
Twitter: @TheNavCosgrove
Grading: 9/10
Total Cost: £65.05 including all food and four drinks.

Jim Davis

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