Now that we’re well and truly into Autumn, the nights are feeling considerably chillier. Tom and I were both looking forward to good hearty dinner at the Maytime Inn. Just a few minutes from Burford, the Maytime Inn plays a central role in the hamlet of Asthall, once home to Cotswold royalty – the Mitford Sisters.
What’s immediately obvious about the Maytime is that unlike other countryside pubs in small villages which could easily have been forgotten and turned into handsome houses, trendy villager dwellers still frequent the bar. Combined with the handful of guests booked in to one of the Inn’s six rooms, it gives the places a lively and cosy atmosphere – which is often lacking in many watering holes which are either ‘for the locals’ or the gastro variety.
The right side of trendy
Dom, the Maytime’s owner for the last three years, has established an atmosphere reminiscent of a cosy library with the book patterned wallpaper at one far end and the well stocked, roaring fire right in the heart of the pub. I imagine it’s the the kind of feeling Lord Grantham gets when he’s lounging in front of Downton Abbey’s drawing room hearth – a comfortable corner to relax in.
Everything is extremely well thought out, not just the décor but even the raspberries in my Pinkster Gin and Tonic were perfect succulent shape! The whole place treads the fine line from being ‘countryside twee’ (think Falkland Arms, Great Tew and an overwhelming obsession with ale jugs) and just beautifully smart casual.
I didn’t feel that I needed compete with trendsetting Cotswoldians in Moschino woollen coats, Jaeger boots and floppy felt winter hats. The staff were doing the double denim, I might even have spied a ripped jean!
Dom after spending some time as the manager at Oxford’s Turf Tavern (a famous Morse haunt) felt passionately that the Maytime should remain a freehouse. Able to experiment and have on draught different ales and beers from across the country – something Tom certainly appreciated as he made his way through the five page dedicated beer menu!
The main deal
We hadn’t planned on going for three full courses – as we both always regret it after, feeling ridiculously full. But by the time we came to selecting our dinner, my taste buds were going into overdrive just from the menu description. I went for garlic and thyme mushrooms on sourdough toast – it was my favourite course of the evening and Tom had Palma ham, fig and blue cheese on rye bread. This was a tight toss up with a black pudding scotch egg with homemade brown sauce – I think we’ll be going back for this as Tom suffered foodie envy from the table next door.
For mains I went with rice Arancini (when do you ever see this on the menu in a pub!) with goats cheese sauce and roasted vegetables and Tom picked pollock, king prawn, mussel and tomato broth with warm bread (his favourite!).
Dessert was an easy choice for Tom who had three scoops of homemade ice cream. For me it was more of a deliberation, but when asking knowledgeable manager, Andy, what his preference would be – he didn’t waste any time championing the chocolate bread and butter pudding.
Hard work pays off
You can tell that the Maytime staff really support their local area, Andy, who’s been with the Inn for over a year fell in love with the village on arrival for his interview. There menu is brimming with locally sourced, seasonal produce creating interesting traditional dishes with a twist, which warm the soul.
You can also tell that their hard work has paid off with the Inn winning Expedia’s Insider Select award, a privilege only given to 650 hotels across the planet which maintains a 4.7 review score on the website for over a year – the Maytime managed a 4.8 rating out of 5.
As guests began to go back to their bedrooms (sneaking away gin menus under their arms for their night caps), Alfie (Dom’s spaniel and the real king pin) enjoyed being the centre of attention amongst familiar faces. We’ll definitely be back, and might even put in a call regarding a wedding venue in the distant future?
Need to know:
- The Maytime is a busy place – definitely book ahead to avoid disappointment especially on Sundays.
Note – Our lovely dinner was organised courtesy of The Maytime Inn and Crimson Edge PR, but all nonsense and views purely our own!