The Nags Head

17th June 2016

London Road • Great Missenden • HP16 0DG • 01494 862200

Reviewed by Alan Cox

It may look like a country pub. Indeed, it is a country pub, and a delightful one at that, but put aside all thoughts of pub grub. Far from it. This is more even than a gastro pub. It’s a sophisticated and top notch restaurant nestled inside a casual, relaxed and welcoming 15th century countryside inn.

It’s been five years since I made its acquaintance and culinary standards certainly haven’t slipped. With the same excellent chef at the helm, it’s still a foodies’ heaven, and is now giving its big sister, The Bricklayers Arms in Flaunden, a run for her money. It’s definitely all about the cuisine, and the menu sounds as mouth-watering as ever.

I start with Tuna Carpaccio marinated in mixed mild spices and served with roasted nuts and parmesan shavings. I’m told, by the waiter, that this is a good choice. It isn’t just good, it’s excellent. The presentation isn’t over fussy; it’s all about simple partnering and clean fresh tastes, coupled with a touch of flair that lift dishes here from the ordinary to extraordinary.

My wife chooses the impressive Selection of home-smoked fish served with a lemon coriander butter and tomato chutney. Here are generous portions of tuna, salmon and sword fish, all delicately smoked, allowing the three distinct flavours to shine through. The chutney, served on a china spoon, adds a splash of colour and a zing to the tastebuds. A little portion of scrumptious triple cooked chips arrives with the compliments of the chef. We must be eating the poshest fish and chips in the county.

Service is friendly and efficient; maybe a little too efficient… the main courses arrive too promptly. A more of leisurely pace, to allow the wonderful flavours to settle, would be appreciated.

My wife’s choice of Duck breast & confit leg (marinated in salt & confit in own fat), served with a black fig jus is presented with artistic flair. The breast, cooked pink and fanned to perfection on the large white plate, is a contrast to the succulent, slightly saltier taste of the confit leg which is so tender that it just falls apart. The fig jus is delicious, adding sweet and rich overtones to the dish.

On my side of the table, I’m pretty impressed with my Roasted breast of lamb stuffed with Rebellion beer braised lamb shoulder, served with a whole grain mustard jus and mint pea shoots. Looking a little like noisettes, this trio of lamb has a subtle mint taste and just melts in the mouth. Sides of creamed spinach, French beans cooked in butter with shallots and a dish of their signature creamy dauphinoise potatoes prove faultless, washed down with a light and smooth Pinot Noir.

Top tip for future diners: it’s always worth leaving room for one of the delicious and beautifully presented puddings. Tonight, it’s Chocolate truffon with a poached pear and Bailey’s Chantilly cream for my wife – who reports that the light cream sets off the dark decadent chocolate perfectly – and an indulgent Dandelion and Burdock sticky toffee pudding with a date mascarpone and vanilla ice cream. This enormous light sponge sitting in a puddle of thick gooey sauce is truly scrumptious.

When the culinary expertise shines this bright, it’s well worth the journey.

STARTERS: £6.45-£10.95
MAINS: £13.95-£26.95
DESSERTS: £6.45-£8.95
HOUSE WINE: £17.95

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