Saturday, 14 June 2014

Restaurant Review - The Mole & Chicken

Location: Long Crendon, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire HP18 9EY, UK

In recent months, the only time MrF and I have had the chance to enjoy a meal out together has been mostly for an occasion of some sort - my Birthday, our Anniversary, or simply a long overdue date night. On these special occasions, I try my utmost to hold back all temptation of photographing the food, the setting, the frontage... pretty much everything. Long suffering MrF has waited countless times to dive into his food, while I spin the plate to the best angle and snap away with my camera phone. It's bad enough that he has to wait for me, a notoriously slow eater, to finish my meal while he looks on in anguish, ordering yet another pint of ale or glass of wine.

Our recent visit to The Mole & Chicken was for my Birthday, not a milestone birthday, but a birthday nonetheless, so I knew I wanted somewhere low key but with great food. Who better to test the water for me than the future King and Queen of England, who stopped by a few months ago.

So with a venue fit for a Queen (to be) and Grandparents booked for babysitting, off we trotted to a restaurant we hadn't been to for almost two years. We'd only visited twice before, but both times had been exceptional: the first - a light lunch on the rear terrace with views of rolling green pastures and puffy green trees, the second - a visit for Father's Day a couple of years ago, with a spot of delicious Sunday Lunch inside the pub.

This time round, we were visiting for an evening meal, which we'd been looking forward to since I booked it a few days prior. Pouring over the menu, I knew exactly what I wanted - it was a celebration meal and a celebration calls for STEAK! So building a menu around my ribeye, I opted for a lighter shaved fennel salad to start. Seeing as it's now just over a month since my Birthday, and given I was a little tipsy on wine, I've since completely forgotten what else the salad contained - but I do recall enjoying it if that helps (note to self, if not taking pictures, remember to take notes!). MrF had the Flaked Confit Duck Salad with spicy thai herbs & cashew nuts to start (£8.50) which he mostly enjoyed, though felt it lacking a little in punch.

As we awaited our mains, we chatted about The Mole & Chicken's similarity in feel to that of The Mole Inn, in Toot Baldon. It so transpired that both mole-monikered pubs are in fact related - take one look at the bespectacled mole logos and you'll spot that. Both L-shaped pubs share the same Franglaise 'country kitchen chic' decor, with solid wooden furniture, dried flowers and muted colour palettes. The layout is almost identical too - you walk in to find the bar offside to the left, with the dining area further left and extending into the left wing. Both have beautiful sun-trap gardens, with traditional garden furniture, perfect for dining al fresco on a hazy sunny day.

Having enjoyed food at both establishments, I'm pleased to say the consistency of quality is also a common denominator. Time for mains - Braised Shoulder of Lamb for MrF, with creamed potatoes, spring vegetables and fresh mint (£19.95), which while delicious, was no match for my steak - served perfectly medium-rare with an outstanding peppercorn sauce, tomato, mushroom and excellent chips (£19.50).

We didn't have room for puddings at the end (we'd naughtily had some bread and sumptuously silky houmous on arrival), but I was pleased to be furnished with a cup of fresh mint tea at the end of the meal - no second-choice tea bag in sight.

Off we rolled home, bellies full and hearts warmed.

Overall score: 9

The Mole & Chicken
Nr Long Crendon
HP18 9EY
Twitter: @moleandchicken
Phone: 01844 208 387

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