Featured Restaurant: Coach and Horses

6th April 2018

22 High Street • Rickmansworth • WD3 1ER • 01923 772433

Reviewed by Lisa Botwright

In the pretty and quintessentially English town of Rickmansworth lies the pretty and quintessentially English Coach and Horses Pub. Full of oak beams, open fire places and cosy nooks, a visit there is usually as relaxed and as traditional as it gets…

And so it’s a surprise when I find I can barely squeeze through the front door. A bank holiday disco playing ‘old school funk’ is in full swing and the place is packed full of cheerful revellers. It’s noisy, but it’s a great atmosphere, and I make a mental note to find out more about their next scheduled music nights.

But happily, since we’re here to eat rather than dance, the dining area at the back of the pub is much calmer. The restaurant was sympathetically extended about fifteen years ago, and is currently painted a deep indigo blue, which lends a contemporary twist to the dark wood furniture and huge gilt mirrors dotted around.

As I would have expected, the menu is as traditional as its setting, and full of English classics (including pie of the day, of course), delivered by a chef fully confident in his customers’ tastes and expectations.

I start with Grilled Asparagus with garlic portobello mushroom, poached egg and hollandaise sauce, and my guest – my teenage daughter on this occasion – opts for Miso Glazed Prawns with pak choi and toasted sesame seeds. (Okay, so not everything on the menu is English or completely traditional.) There’s obviously a super grill area in the kitchen because the asparagus and prawns are both beautifully chargrilled and very tasty. I’m a little hesitant in choosing ‘egg’ for dinner – to me, it’s a nursery food that I’m worried won’t quite go with my glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc, but I appreciate how the yolk balances the crunchy asparagus and huge garlicky mushroom.

What really elevates the flavours is the delicious hollandaise sauce – there’s not too much, just enough to give the dish an agreeably grown-up edge. My daughter, meanwhile, is tearing apart her large, shelled prawns with gusto. The miso sauce is dark, sticky and very messy, but has a gorgeous smoky depth.

The meat, I’m told, is carefully selected by the chef from Smithfield Market, and in ‘cutting out the middle man’, the pub can pass onto their customers good quality meat at very reasonable prices. With this in mind, my daughter insists on trying their steak and chips, and I go for Pan Roasted Duck Breast with potato and bacon terrine and cranberry jus. The perfectly seared 8oz sirloin arrives accompanied by the sweetest tomatoes roasted on the vine, and a portion of hot and crispy potato wedges so huge, they need another bowl all to themselves. My duck breast is pink, plump and smothered in an incredibly rich jus, which has just the right balance of savoury and sweet thanks to the cranberries. The terrine comes as a creamy dauphinoise parcel, garnished with cubes of salty bacon. It’s delicious, but my only gripe is that the dish could have done with the addition of a little something green and fresh – rocket or French beans maybe, to lighten it a little. (Or maybe I should have paid more attention to the ‘sides’ on the menu.)

We round off the meal by sharing a ramekin of Apple, Plum and Pear Crumble, which comes with a little pot of custard on the side. It tastes very ‘home-made’ and not overly sweet. It’s perfect, in fact. Oh, and dare I say… ‘quintessentially English’.

STARTERS: £3.95-£6.95 • MAINS: £8.00-£18.95
DESSERTS: £4-£6.95 • HOUSE WINE: £15.00

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