The journey was well worth it!
Have you read any of the quotes on destination? Don’t they always conclude with the emphasis on the journey instead? My journey toward The Perch Inn – a cottage pub somewhere on the unfamiliar Binsey Lane in Oxford had me recall every quote I had come across, perhaps owing to the fact that I was walking down for 25 minutes eager to meet my destination. Even now as I write this review my memory stubbornly goes back to the journey that only fanned the embers of curiosity to finally reveal this cottage. It was the dreamiest walk I had taken recently, framed by tall trees that formed a lush marquee along the length of Binsey Lane. When I eventually met with the delicious destination everything fell into perspective.
Location : If you are visiting Oxford you can choose to drive dòwn from the city centre towards the railway station and about a minute ahead on the right is where Binsey lane begins. It is a 5 minute drive from one point of Binsey to the other end where The Perch sits pretty surrounded by a vast meadow. A walk on this stretch is precisely 25 minutes with picture postcard view. There is an American Golf Club midway and acts as a signage that the cottage is now 12 minutes by foot. Most people drive or bike it down and it’s enjoyable too.
Why Visit ? There has been a pub on this very site for 800 years now. It was a common haunt of Inspector Morse and some legendary scholars and poets in Oxford. As I walked in, I gathered that this pub is quite known to people in Oxfordshire and they have mastered the menu like it’s another favourite pub in town they would visit. But travellers like myself, need to discover it through recommendation. There aren’t many reasons why I would revisit this pub, I just have two – Location and Food. For instance just the idea of foodie indulgence on the banks of Thames would draw me back not to mention the staff is wonderful too.
Decor and Ambiance: Since the setting of the pub is in a real thatched roof cottage and not a make belief one, the interior design and seating is similar to a quintessential British Inn. Dark wooden vintage table and chairs, rosewood hued leather couch that you’d see in a library room of a manor and lamps well suited for a cottage. There is fire place near the table seating indoors with a mantle decorated with artefacts over it. The couch was my favourite as it gave a relaxed lounge feel for comfort. The bar section is quite spacious and is next to the patio entrance. The glass covered patio gives you the warmth of the interiors as well as the beauty of the meadow outside. The outdoor seating has leafy curtains falling from the wide canopy trees and green meadow beneath making it the favourite spot to lunch among patrons. It can get windy outside though and I chose to get on the patio instead. A stretch further are picnic tables laid out overlooking the gentle river which is a usual spot for intimate parties or brunches. One glance at this place and I knew it is definitely a custom made venue for brunch.
Menu : Being a British pub the menu has all the trappings of the cuisine’s favourites like scotch egg, buttered mash, seared or grilled haddock. They have a special selection for Sunday brunch as well. If I weren’t pressed for time I’d have chosen the fish of the day on the menu – North Atlantic Cod. However it would have taken atleast 25 minutes and I immediately chose the salmon and goat cheese salad. Since I was accompanied by a vegetarian for lunch we chose the starter with buttered mushroom on bread.
We served Dandelion a typical British non alcoholic drink that I discovered to be quite a refreshing way to begin our lunch. The mushroom on bread starter was deliciously done to perfection and had the right amount of butter not to mask the ingredients and rob them of flavour. My grilled salmon on a bed of greens and decorated with watercress was pink on the inside with right amount of moist and softness to blend perfectly with the creamy sauce on which it rested. The sauce was creamy and mildly flavoured but left room to accentuate the greens and salmon for one of the most delicious dishes I have had recently. The flavours of each ingredient danced in synchrony with each other and it did seem like each ingredient had its role cut out to play. The goat cheese and beetroot salad was one of the defining moments for a meat eater like me. If a vegetarian dish tastes that good to meat lovers its ingredients have come together perfectly. The crunch and colour from the vegetables and the mellow creamy texture from the cheese played well to the tatse buds. I know the food is divine when my heart and stomach are uniformly satiated.
Service : The staff at the pub were very informed about the product and were genuinely friendly. Swift and efficient on the tables and thorough in their orders across all tables.
Want More? As it turns out you can hire the pub for private events and parties including weddings. A large marquee stood in the meadow empty from a previous event and during my conversation with the manager I learned about the popularity with weddings and birthday parties. When the setting is naturally as picturesque as this why wouldn’t a bride wish her wedding to be held here? Nothing like an intimate venue for a celebration with the best food and wine. I reckon this is as popular during the holiday season as it is during weddings.
On my way back to Oxford walking down Binsey lane, I soaked in every step of the journey. It was indeed well worth it !!
For more details please visit The Perch Inn.