The Greyhound – Letcombe Regis
I had spent the morning walking up the famous White Horse Hill, exploring the Iron Age hill fort remains of Uffington Castle, close to the historic prehistoric trail of The Ridgeway, described as Britain’s oldest road. The short walk up the hill was rewarded with a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of over forty or fifty miles in all directions.
I was staying at The Greyhound Inn, an 18th century free house, in the centre of Letcombe Regis, a picturesque down land village. It is a Grade II listed building whose frontage dates back to 1790c although the rear of the property is a late Victorian addition. Records suggest it has been a pub since 1870c.
It is a fine example of a quintessential English village Inn, where the community comes together and visitors are made to feel very welcome whether to call in just for a quick drink, to read the paper or catch up with friends. You can grab a simple snack or stay and linger over a celebratory meal in one of the dining areas.
Letcombe Regis is an historic village, previously boasting three Manor Houses. The third Letcombe Manor was replaced in 2008 by Richmond Letcombe Regis, a purpose-built retirement community, now an integral and important part of the community and village life.
Some parts of St Andrews Church at the centre of the village date back to the 12th c. A curiosity in the churchyard is an obelisk recording the death of a Maori chief who came to England to train as a Christian Minister, but died of tuberculosis at the age of 19, when staying at Vicarage in 1871.
Further back in History is the ancient Iron Age Fort called Segsbury Camp, at the top of the road leading out of the village to the Berkshire Downs, not a through road! The views from the top of the hill are stunning and you can also join the ancient Ridgeway trail at this point.
Our room The Oxford, a family suite room, was one of eight bedrooms, all individually decorated and furnished. The bed was a super king with an upholstered headboard and a luxury handmade pocket spring mattresses, covered with crisp white linen sheets.
There was a staircase up to our room on the second floor but reception staff offered to carry our luggage, which was appreciated. Set in the roof space, with lots of stunning original timber frames, the room can easily accommodate a family of four. Two small children could sleep in the separate screened lounge area on the sofa or pull-out beds.
We found the lounge area, with the sofa bed, small armchair, television and table, a comfortable space in which to sit quietly with a good book and a cup of tea. I liked having the extra space and not have to stretch out on the bed if I had wanted to watch television. Appropriately, there were several Oxford college prints on the walls. There was also a chest of drawers and plenty of wardrobe space for hanging clothes, with several hangers provided, not always the case in some places I have stayed at! For extra heat, cooling or simply to keep the air in the room clean & fresh, there was a very useful Honeywell dehumidifier.
The room was decorated in creams and greys with dark wood and painted furniture. The luxury feature ensuite bathroom, set amongst the old timbers had a stunning turquoise roll top bath, but no shower. I was pleased to note the oak beams were not too low, so I was able to move around easily without any threat of banging my head, which is what has happened in several other properties I have visited of a similar historical vintage!
My wife took the opportunity to indulge in a hot leisurely bath, making the best use of a wide range of luxurious Bramley handmade natural bath and body products, provided in the bathroom. All of the bedrooms are en-suite with a bath, shower or both.
Our room also contained, access to Free Wi-Fi, two Flat screen TV`s with Freeview, a retro looking Roberts DAB/FM radio, two Bedside Tables with lamps, Tea and coffee facilities, a couple of biscuits, and two bottles of complimentary bottled water. Guests can request an Hairdryer or ironing board.
As there was no fridge in the room, We were also offered a flask of cold milk and as it was a particularly warm, sunny day when we arrived, this was very much appreciated and considerate. A much better idea than those horrible, little milk sachets!
For the evening meal, the sun was still shining and it was warm outside so we decided to start our meal out on the outdoor seating at the back of the pub.
Pre- Dinner Drinks: I enjoyed a pint of Harvey`s Sussex Best under the late evening sun. It was a refreshing superbly balanced bitter with a prominent taste of hops. My wife enjoyed a glass of wine from the bottle which we had chosen for the evening meal.
Wine: Finca Valero 2018 – a very acceptable Spanish red house wine which features dark berry fruits and a hint of pepper.
The chef and kitchen team at The Greyhound have a built a strong reputation for cooking up delicious and imaginative dishes, so I was looking forward to the meal. All of the food is freshly cooked to order with a strong emphasis on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, whenever possible. The menus are inspired by the seasons and local suppliers, which was reflected in the deliciously fresh, creative dishes, which were served to our table.
Twice-baked Leonard Stanley Gloucestershire cheddar soufflé with smoked haddock chowder
- The cheese soufflé was simply delicious sporting a wide range of textures. The soufflé was perfectly soft in the centre with a light crispy shell topping. The chowder added to the flavours and aroma of the dish.
Wye Valley Asparagus, confit duck egg, pea shoots and Old Winchester Cheese
- The Duck egg was beautifully soft and creamy with perfectly cooked local fresh Asparagus was firm to the bite and tasted delicious. The Old Winchester cheese shavings with its dry, sweet nutty flavour scattered across the top complimented the dish perfectly.
Wootton Bassett lamb rump, roasted baby heritage carrots, beetroots, spiced carrot puree, toasted nuts and seeds
- The local lamb rump was an amazingly tasty cut of meat, cooked medium rare with a soft pink meat and crispy outer layer of fat that made the meat even more special and tasty. The thin roasted heritage carrots were very flavoursome sitting perfectly alongside the warm beetroots with a sprinkling of nuts & seeds.
10oz Royal Estate rump steak, soy marinated mushrooms, chips, peppercorn sauce and
- When it comes to steak, those who value flavour above all else tend to choose rump. My wife loves her rump steak! This was not chewy but a large steak, nicely pink which cut perfectly on the knife and was extremely flavoursome with plenty of watercress. The soy marinated mushrooms were too strong for her taste buds, but I loved them!
Chocolate, raspberry & hazelnut delice, honeycomb and viola flowers
Wow! What a delight. Firm, chocolate, raspberry delice with a luxurious mousse-like texture. This dark chocolate delice is a truly indulgent dessert and looks equally stunning with honeycomb pieces and decorated with perfectly placed, colourful viola flowers.
‘Strawberries and cream’ – our take on a classic
- I was intrigued! What can you do with strawberries & cream? This was very creative, and looked fabulous, confirming The Greyhound`s growing reputation for creating special, artistic & imaginative dishes. A nicely presented circular arrangement of strawberry pieces, meringue slivers and strawberry ice cream. It got five stars from me!
The Greyhound also offer a fine selection of local artisan chesses, crackers and home made chutney as an alternative to the sweet options. Greystones Single Gloucester Cheese is an artisan, pasteurised, organic, cows’ milk cheese produced in Upper Slaughter. It has a light, crumbly texture and creamy flavour. The Award-winning Cerney Ash Artisan Goats Cheese is hand-made in Moreton-in-Marsh in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. It is a soft crumbly cheese with a mild tangy lemony flavour. It is dusted with a mix of black ash and sea-salt. Weaver`s Cotswold Organic Brie is a lot sweeter and more delicate than French Brie reflecting the splendour of Cotswold pastures.
All the food was perfectly cooked and the table service professional but never intrusive. As well as the A La Carte menu, there were also several specials on the blackboard, and at lunchtimes (not Sundays) visitors can choose from a range of delicious sandwich options. It is also possible for packed lunches to be prepared for when you leave, a gesture much appreciated by walkers and cyclists, particularly those heading off up to The Ridgeway trail.
The bar area with its large Inglenook fireplace, wooden floorboards and assortment of country tables & chairs is very welcoming area and offers a good range of award-winning ales, local beers, wines & ciders. The Greyhound is still very much a local pub serving the neighbouring village community. I noticed several locals calling in for a few beers, meeting friends or to read their newspaper. It is also a popular stopping off spot for many organised walking groups, individual ramblers and cyclists.
There are several areas around the pub for visitors to dine including a private dining room which seats about thirteen guests for that private party or celebratory dinner. The Red Room always provides an intimate dining area for a small number of guests. Well behaved dogs are also welcome.
The breakfast was well worth getting up for as there was a wide selection of cereal, fresh fruit, various conserves, pain au chocolate, toasts and smoked salmon as well as the traditional full English cooked breakfast. The breakfast area was at the back of the building near the rear porch entrance. I opted for a traditional full English breakfast and my wife chose the Salmon & scrambled egg, which was delicious. Washed down with lashings of hot tea, we were set up for the day ahead.
I was told that there is a also a very popular and challenging monthly quiz, but unfortunately not on the evening I was visiting! There are also regular Live Music & Pizza Evenings, as well as many special events evenings.
For fabulous food, friendly professional service and quality ales, in a local friendly pub, The Greyhound is a great choice. I enjoyed my stay, our room was comfortable, spacious and clean, with everything we needed for a weekend break. The food was very special, a wide ranging menu of top quality dishes, beautifully cooked and professionally presented to table. A great local Inn & top restaurant!
By providing good quality food and drink combined with the warm, friendly hospitality of the waiting staff, this classic village Inn is sure to win many more awards for its food, rooms and hospitality over the next couple of years. It certainly comes highly recommended from me!
Michelin Plate 2019 – Good Hotel Guide 2019 – Best Places to stay 2018 – Best Destination Pub 2018 – New Pub of the Year in the Good Pub Guide 2018 – CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2019 – CAMRA Country Pub of the Year 2018 – Sawdays: A Special Place 2019
Main Street, Letcombe Regis, Wantage, Oxfordshire, OX12 9JL
Telephone: 01235 771969
Disclosure: My visit to The Greyhound, Letcombe Regis was courtesy of the owners. The views and comments expressed, are as usual my own.