REVIEW: Winning ambience and menu at refurbished country pub at Hartwell near Aylesbury

Miss Anna Vye, general manager of The Bugle Horn at Hartwell
Miss Anna Vye, general manager of The Bugle Horn at Hartwell

Eating out is big business and with lots of competition, pubs and restaurants have to provide something special to win their share of customers.

The Bugle Horn near Aylesbury has recently undergone its first refurbishment for 16 years and has a stylish contemporary feel as well as new additions to the menu.

Roasted butternut squash and Portobello mushroom tart with Blacksticks blue cheese sauce

Roasted butternut squash and Portobello mushroom tart with Blacksticks blue cheese sauce

I was invited to have Sunday lunch with three guests the day after the pub re-opened and it was bursting at the seams with happy diners, writes Heather Jan Brunt.

A former farmhouse and later a wine store for nearby Hartwell House, the building is oozing with charm.

Patrons filled the vast variety of tables - suitable for big and small parties, groups of friends or family or intimate meals for two.

With so many different spaces, including little nooks and crannies, there is something to suit every occasion.

Hand carved roast beef

Hand carved roast beef

The pub has been given a very contemporary update with new furniture, carpets, flooring, light fittings, blinds and paint in the current popular grey colour scheme.

The bar area has been opened up and is light and airy with comfortable chairs and a television. Log fires are glowing throughout the building, and there is also a new patio area and loads of outdoor seating for the warmer months.

General manager Anna Vye, who arrived in October,is delighted with the end result.

And her head chef Nick Murray is doing a great job with his team in the kitchen.

New additions to the menu include starters of maple glazed chicken wings (£5.75) and a sticky platter to be shared (£15.95).

New mains include steak and mushroom pie (£11.50) and sticky crispy duck salad (£12.50).

Being a pastry fan I opted for the vegetarian dish of roasted butternut squash and Portobello mushroom tart in a Blacksticks blue cheese sauce (£10.50).

I am not vegetarian but often chose the vegetarian option when eating out, and sometimes it can be disappointing. Not on this occasion.

The crisp herby pastry was utterly delicious and the tart was deep with a glorious filling. In fact it was so huge I couldn’t finish it and had to give some of it to my husband.

I have a healthy appetite, but felt the Yorkshire pudding was unnecessary. But serving Yorkshires with all roasts instead of just with beef (my vegetarian tart was on the Sunday roast section of the menu) seems to be the style these days.

Between us we tested several of the starters, mains and one pudding - the traditional crumble (£5.95), with fillings that change regularly. We were served efficiently and quickly, the china was contemporary white in a variety of shapes, the food was presented well and tasted very good. The vegetables in particular were cooked properly, the carrots, roast potatoes and roast parsnips, were soft inside and crisp on the outside, and the cabbage was not soggy. The portions were very generous.

The menu includes sharers and grazing platters, starters, classic roasts, main meals, steaks, burgers, additional side dishes and a variety of puddings. You can also buy a coffee and a mini pudding including creme caramel panna cotta and Bourbon pecan pie.

The ambiance in the pub is very welcoming, warm and comfortable and the old fashioned charm of the building works well with the new contemporary decoration and style. This is a lovely place to enjoy a large or small meal, celebrate something special or just pop in for a cuppa and a snack. Full details and the menu can be viewed online.

Booking is advisable, call 01296 747594 or book online at www.vintageinn.co.uk/restaurants/south-east/thebuglehornhartwell