Peach Pubs, which runs five pubs in Oxfordshire, recently opened the doors to ten of its pubs and thankfully, things got off to a good start for the North Aston-based business. Three of its local pubs, The Bear & Ragged Staff in Cumnor, The Fishes in North Hinksey and The Fleece in Witney opened particularly well and have quickly been welcomed back into their communities. Managing director of Peach Pubs, Hamish Stoddart tells us, "As we stepped wide-eyed but hopeful into the new world ahead of us, we decided to take a simple approach to reopening. We created a 'Theatre of Trust,' a safe place for guests and the teams where the pubs could offer great hospitality at every stage of the eating and drinking experience in a pub that was as close to pre-pandemic times as possible. That means tables that are properly distanced, with screens that look good rather than just being functional, ordering from your mobile and having drinks brought directly to your table (avoiding having to queue at the bar is always a good thing!) and being able to pay your own bill and leave whenever you are ready." He continues, "We want our pubs to be as normal and relaxing as possible so that our guests can come and enjoy their visit knowing that we're taking all the right steps to keep them, and our teams, safe. I'm pleased to say our guests are very happy with what we're doing and voting with their feet, whether they are rediscovering a favourite local or visiting for the first time," he says. "There's never been a better time to make a visit to a great British pub, where a warm welcome and good things to eat and drink are always on offer, so make a beeline for one today."
At The Bear & Ragged Staff in Cumnor, new manager Adam Vines, who joined the team a few days before lockdown, kept himself and the team busy doing takeaways for local residents in the village, along with head chef Chris Kennedy. Guests are now enjoying some great new dishes for autumn from,Oxford-born Chris' kitchen including roast squash salad with black rice and pan-fried sea bream fillet with coconut emerald dahl and tempered spices. Mini puds of lemon and pistachio polenta cake are also new for the season.
For autumnal staycations, The Bear & Ragged Staff has nine beautiful rooms which are all different and all full of character - exposed beams, sloping ceilings, leaded windows and really comfy beds with Egyptian cotten linen. Bathrooms offer a luxury 21st-century experience with free-standing baths and rain showers. Stay with confidence knowing each room is spotlessly clean with additional measures to protect guests and the team, plus flexible rates with 24 hours cancellation. If it's just a getaway for the night, but not the full restaurant experience, the pub now offers takeaway, so the full menu can be enjoyed in the comfort of any room.
At The Fishes in North Hinksey, general manager Ben Reed is also new, although has run other pubs for the company previously. Throughout the first eight weeks of lockdown, Ben and an amazing team of volunteers were producing and donating 600 meals a week for the incredible frontline workers at the John Radcliffe Hospital. This was only made possible by the unstinting support of the team and generous donations from Oxford's independent greengrocers Bonner’s and specialist catering butchers Aldens.
The dinner menu, meanwhile, is taking on a decidedly autumnal feel, with options such as baked Somerset camembert with truffle honey, walnut crust and toasted sourdough and venison, bacon and pheasant terrine with cranberry chutney and toasted sourdough. Hearty main courses include honey-glazed Merrifield duck breast served with Savoy cabbage, smoked bacon, puréed celeriac and green peppercorn jus, and a 14- hour braised beef and ale pie with buttered mash, greens and gravy.
Every Wednesday from now until 18th November is Slow & Low featuring a specials board filled with slow comfort food specials cooked long and low using top-quality seasonal meat and vegetables. Every Friday night is Fish Friday, with posh fish and chips on offer as well as a great choice of fish specials to end the week with a treat.
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