The Pot Kiln
I understood that you will soon be leavin' town
Don't try to call me when they finally run you down
What price a good meal ? I mused upon this while watching the meter of my Hackney Carriage spin quicker than the pound signs in my agent’s eyes.
The day had started so well: the weather was fine, my head clear and mind sharp after an early night, my table for lunch reserved and waiting. I arrived at Paddington station in good time despite the Circle Line being closed and the train left on time. For once everything was coming up roses. Of course it couldn’t last.
I consulted my mini-itinerary that I had been careful to furnish with a small Google map, directions and most importantly the relevant telephone numbers. A quick call to Pangbourne Taxis and my carriage would await at the station. Except it wouldn’t. It appeared that Pangbourne only has two taxis. One was going to Southampton and the other was number unobtainable. I drew a blank with the other numbers. I rang the restaurant and they suggested travelling from Reading.
The Black Cab drivers at Reading had a good old chinwag about how to get to Frilsham. The map I had so carefully sized and printed (in full colour) turned out to be pretty useless consisting as it did of two black dots with illegible writing next to each one joined by a dark blue squiggledy line crossing a straight light blue one. Eventually, they decided on the best route and thought it best to do the journey “on the meter”. Which is obviously coded taxi–speak for “we’ve got a live one here”.
Forty minutes and a fistful of quid later we rolled up a gravel track and arrived at The Pot Kiln in Frilsham. Owned, so I am led to believe by a TV chef called Mike Robinson. A TV chef but I found out he runs a bloody good pub.
After a nicely kept pint of the (brewed on site) Brick Kiln I went for suggested Pot Kiln signature dishes. A salad of pigeon breasts with bacon and black pudding was so much more than the some of its parts. The Pigeon, cooked rare, was the best I have ever had and I've eaten quite a few Pigeons in my time. The small nuggets of bacon were even more impressive and had a intense salty, porkiness that you rarely come across. The Black Pudding was equally exceptional. Some well-dressed leaves that came with it were more than an afterthought and added to the whole.
In a similar vein my second course Pave of Venison offered up top game. Locally killed and wild - well it can't have been very happy - the depth of flavour was remarkable. Easily the best venison I had. There was also some pommes puree mixed with some summer truffle that the owner Mike Robinson had foraged for earlier in the day, some green beans and a complimentary peppercorn sauce that wisely ceded the spotlight to Bambi. Simple but perfect.
In hindsight (a perfect science admittedly) I should have continued the theme of my previous two dishes and gone for something like a crumble but my head was easily turned by the mango and ice cream dish which I finessed with an extra scoop of the strawberry as well. And very nice it was too although the mango was not the exquisite highly perfumed variety that hails from the Indian sub-continent.. Anyway, full marks for a lite offering. The people of West Berks obviously know a good thing too as the place was packed by the time I left. I’d organised for the same taxi to come and pick me up. When he arrived the taxi driver said that I looked like I’d had a good time. I guess that's what the combination of sunshine, good food, beer and copious amounts of wine does for you.
I like cities and I love living in the greatest one on the planet but sometimes, just sometimes I wonder what the country life would be like and with food as good as this available I would be very happy indeed.