Attention to detail is the key at this beautiful country inn.
Even if you’ve visited many, many times before, the hills and villages of the Cotswolds have a lingering charm. Full of mellow stone cottages, village greens, quaint and one-off shops and jaw-dropping views, there are plenty of reasons to keep visiting. And recently we discovered a new and very good reason: The Kingham Plough.
Situated in the small village of Kingham – including one of the aforementioned village greens – The Kingham Plough is easily accessible by train. It’s a short drive from Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold, meaning that you get a whole lot of Cotswold charm right on your doorstep. Kingham itself is mightily pretty, surrounded by greenery and with the kind of architecture that brings out the lifestyle envy in most of us.
Walking across the car park at The Kingham Plough, we immediately smelled something delectable that made us eager for dinner. We were warmly welcomed before we had even entered the building, and were shown to our room. From it we enjoyed beautiful views across the Green to the rolling hills beyond.
The room itself was typically Cotswoldian. There were windows under the eaves, sloping roof timbers and every comfort you could imagine. Two plump armchairs made for a cosy seating area, and there was an enticing array of books under the window.Other temptations included home made cookies, quality tea and coffee and some delightful ungents in the bathroom. And ahhh, that bathroom! Featuring a tub in which you could wallow with a view of the greenery and ever changing skies, plus a rainfall shower, there were incentives to linger.
But the delicious aromas from the kitchen had us out of the room and across the courtyard for a prompt dinner. On a weekday evening, we were pleasantly surprised to find the place buzzing, both in the elegant beamed restaurant and in the very comfortable outside space.
The menu was nicely balanced, with sufficient choices to make a decision difficult, but not so many as to lack focus. Fighting off the temptations of a half pint of prawns, we shared a Salt Pig charcuterie board. It featured olives, spiced almonds, pickled chili and sourdough. It was so flavourful that we may had had a minor tiff about who got the last of everything.
For mains, one of us chose the fish pie from the Classics section of the menu. This came with thermidor sauce and buttery peas and was densely packed with salmon, smoked haddock hake. Our other choice was Creedy Carver duck with a damson jam, chestnut mushrooms and cavolo nero. We added honey glazed carrots and piccolo parsnips.
It’s difficult to convey just how delicious this was. And we weren’t the only ones enjoying the experience – around the room gentle conversations were interspersed with murmurs of delight as dishes arrived and were tasted. I loved the duck dish immensely; everything had been thought through carefully from the contrasting textures of the duck – crispy outside and meltingly tender within -to the cavolo nero crisp that topped the plate. Had my table manners not been instilled early by my nan, I might have licked the plate.
There’s a lovely tale behind the ‘Big Kids Sundae’ for dessert, it having been created for younger diners, but ordered avidly by parents and everyone else. It was packed with all the very best things, from homemade ice cream to cookies and brownies. I had a wonderful caramelised pear with candied hazelnuts and raspberry sorbet. The mix of warm and crisp fruit, crunchy nuts and icy sorbet plus raspberries was simply glorious.
A quick word to any of you with food allergies; you will dine safely and exceptionally well here. As a lactose-intolerant coeliac, my food choices can be delicious but not always exciting. Head Chef Jonny Pons has really engaged his creativity across the menu, and I was delighted to find my allergen friendly plates as carefully balanced as any of those served to other diners. In fact, it was definitely the most memorable meal I’d had in a long time. Just let the kitchen know a little in advance, and enjoy the bounty of the menu here.
It was good to see that the warmth of the welcome extended to the bar. Owner Matt Beamish is certainly achieving his aim of making this place both a Cotswolds destination and a local resource. If you just feel like a bowl of (excellent) chips and a pint of the local brew from Hook Norton or Prescott, you’ll find yourself at home in the warm and cozy bar.
The attention to detail from Matt and his team is impressive. From the delivery of soya milk for my morning coffee to the gentle care taken with the youngest guest’s extra bacon at breakfast (served to a cooler plate so as to be safe for her), care was evident in every action.
If you haven’t been tempted enough already, I should tell you that the bed was so intensely comfortable that we slept for a record number of hours. Breakfast consisted of a table full of cereals, granola, breads, home made jams and fruit. A pair of drop scones arrived unexpectedly, and beautifully hot in a tiny pan. I looked at mine with longing until the magic words “gluten and dairy free” were uttered. That’s a nice touch; guest with allergies usually miss out on specials like this, but not at The Kingham Plough.
The menu choices were also inspiring. Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs hit the spot perfectly. I had an invigorating full English with mushrooms and tomatoes so pristine they seemed to have come from a food magazine spread. And the bacon? Well, the youngest guest wasn’t wrong. Suffice to say that I think I heard every single table comment on how gorgeous it is.
Whether you are looking to enjoy the Cotswolds or simply needing a place to stay for a business trip, there’s plenty to recommend at Kingham Plough Find out more about the prettiest places to visit in the Cotswolds here
We stayed as guests of The Kingham Plough. All views expressed are our own.