It felt like we had to wait an age for the Double Red Duke to finally open its doors. After the announcement in November 2020 that Sam and Georgie Pearman had acquired what was The Plough at Clanfield and would launch in February 2021, lockdowns and various restrictions delayed that until May 17th.
Even more exiting was hearing that they had secured the services of Hawksmoor and PittCue's Richard Turner to work alongside Head Chef Richard Sandiford. This could only mean two things, fire and an abundance of meat.
Of course the menu isn't just full of meat. There is a cheese & onion tatin, veggie mixed grill and a trio of salads for the herbivores amongst us, but there's no fun in any of that,
Unsurprisingly, and right up our street, there is a separate menu for steak cuts from where we picked a incredible chunk of medium-rare ribeye. I sat and watched the chefs cooking various ribs and T-bones over the flames from the 14-seater kitchen counter which felt like the front row of the world's best theatre. I always find open kitchens captivating and could sit there all day, especially watching these masters of meat at work.
Away from beef steaks, the "Large Plate" menu boasts wild fish on-the-bone, grilled rose veal chop, fried oysters & egg tartare, spit roast turbot (which looked amazing when it went by to another table) and half a chicken spit roast, as well as the classic fish & chips, pie & mash and the Double Red burger.
The "small plates" menu (nobody does "starters" anymore) is equally exciting and includes some exquisite Wood Roast Sea Scallops with Wild Garlic Butter, Milk & Honey Lamb Chops with Pea & Haggis Salad (I will try this when I go next) and some superb sticky and perfectly charred Apple Glazed Bacon Ribs, Apple, Tamarind & Fennel Slaw.
If you're feeling hungry, which we were, there's also a "snacks" menu at the very beginning featuring some wonderful light and crispy Dublin Bay Scampi and three different flatbreads. We chose the Courgette, Wild Garlic & Mint one to share but you would probably need one each depending on how many other dishes you choose and how big your appetite is.
There wasn't any room for a dessert. If I was staying the night, and home was just a short walk away up the stairs, I would have probably dipped for the white chocolate cheesecake or the sticky toffee pudding. However, if the choice is more meat or leaving room for a pudding, there is only ever going to be one winner.
If staying the night is an option for you, then the nineteen bedrooms are all as heavenly as you would expect. They each, like the whole of the interior, carry the Pearman stamp. There is an abundance of snugs where you can hide away from the world for an afternoon, and the magnificent Downton Abbey-famed Oxfordshire countryside is quite literally on the doorstep. What's not to like?