The George & Dragon opened in the summer, under the careful and experienced hand of owner, Patrick Vaughan Fowler.
Patrick bought the central village pub in 2013, and set about restoring it to its former glory. The pub is filled with glorious nooks and crannies, allowing you to drink or dine with friends, or find a quiet spot for a solitary quiet drink with a paper.
We visited for lunch on a cold but sunny day, we pulled up into the spacious car park and were pleased to see it was busy. We approached the bar and a very friendly barmaid, who took our drink orders, gave us menus and helped us to find a seat. We chose to sit by the roaring fire and set about connecting to the wifi, which is free for all visitors.
Our lovely (and beautifully-spoken) waitress arrived to explain the menu to us and left us to chat and make our choices. After an appropriate amount of time, she returned and took our order.
I chose the Bacon and Cheese Burger, Crispy Onions, Baby Gem, Pickle and Fries, £12.50. I asked for the baby gem and pickle to be served on the side, and my friend chose the Chef’s Home-made Pie with Chips and Greens, £12.00. The pie of the day was Beef.
It was not a long wait before the waitress returned to take us to our table. There were a fair few tables taken with diners, and regulars at the bar drinking and socialising. Patrick really has put a proper pub back in to the village of Hurstbourne Tarrant.
Our food arrived and looked beautiful. My photos do not do the dishes justice; they looked and smelled amazing.
The burger was home made and cooked to perfection. I do not normally like pink burgers but this was perfectly cooked, firm and seasoned excellently. The mature cheddar added bite to each mouthful and the crispy onions, where do I start? An absolute beauty of an addition to a traditional burger – crispy onions that crunch and then melt in your mouth add another dimension to this already wonderful burger. The lettuce and pickle were fresh and the chips were skinny, crispy and fluffy.
My friend’s pie was served with fries and cabbage. Although not a lover of this often verbally abused vegetable, it was a great accompaniment to this meal, fresh, vibrant with a little crunch and perfectly seasoned. The shortcrust pastry top was thin and crisp. What lay underneath was a pie full to bursting with beef in a rich, thick sauce full of vegetable treats. My friend had asked for some mayonnaise to go with his chips, but in the end he did not need it, because the sauce was so delicious in the pie.
We decided to have desserts and I chose the baked Cheesecake, passion fruit, lime meringues, and pain d’epice ice cream, £6.00, and my friend ordered the Chocolate Delight £6.00.
There was a small wait for the desserts but when they arrived, I was bowled over.
I was expecting a slice of cheesecake with passion fruit atop, but what I got was so pretty and so much more. I was actually reluctant to eat it. It was my first ever ‘de-constructed’ dessert. The plate was scattered with a chocolate biscuit crumb, with cheesecake quenelles, cubes of passion fruit jelly, the smallest and most perfect meringues stuck together with a lime sauce. The quennelles were topped with butterfly leaves. The whole plate looked like a summer garden. It was without a doubt, the nicest dessert I have ever eaten.
The Chocolate Delight was a base of crunchy chocolate biscuit and chocolate ganache, layered with a perfectly-balanced pistachio and white chocolate mousse and topped with a quenelle of chocolate. The deep, almost bitter chocolate was a match made in heaven when eaten with the mousse and the biscuit base added a wanting texture, which balanced the dish expertly.
I have given the George & Dragon in Hurstbourne Tarrant a Gold – but it was so much more than that. Bravo to Patrick, Chef Daniel and all of the staff.