For months I had been listening to friends rave about The Muddy Duck, a country style pub nestled in the idyllic and tranquil village of Hethe, Oxfordshire. "Out of this world", "top notch", "flawless" - the positive reviews came in thick and fast. Now, I don't know about you, my Warrior friends, but for me EATING is believing and I was intrigued to discover for myself whether or not The Muddy Duck was deserving of such lofty praise.
This afternoon, following a most pleasant and sunny country walk with Craigy Boy and Sapphie Whippet we pulled up in front of the pub, eager to put our tastebuds to the taste.
We were met at the front of house by Jack, a charming and most affable young chap.
Jack greeted us with a beaming smile (see picture above) and then proceeded to go out of his way to find us a shaded spot on the outside patio. I think he took one look at my freckled, almost translucent skin and knew it was where I needed to be. Bless you, Jack. My fragile epidermis is indeed grateful.
I left Craigy Boy with my order and set off to explore the Muddy Duck and its many nooks and crannies.
I started on the inside. This is the bar area where you can relax in front of a roasty, toasty log fire in the winter months. I can almost hear the flames crackling! *sighs blissfully*.
Some of the bar staff hard at work:
Sam mans the bread station with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. Check out that freshly, homemade focaccia and ciabatta!!
But don't be fooled by the apparent country style quaintness of The Muddy Duck. There's more to this cosy eating establishment than meets the eye...
Just in case you're in any doubt:
A quick skip, hop and jump (or stroll) and you're in the garden where you will come face to face with a giant wooden duck wearing welly boots. He must be a Muddy Duck. (See what I did there??)
From what I could tell the gardens are separated into three areas:
1) the patio where Craigy Boy and I were seated
2) another grassy expanse with tables and chairs where you can soak up the sun when it makes one of its rare UK appearances. That's exactly what these fine folks are doing:
I'm loving me the chunky tables and chairs! Here's a closer look!!
Not far from the chunky tables and chairs I chanced upon this most intriguing little hut:
I mean, I could obviously tell it was some kind of game but knew no more than that. Upon returning to my table Jack informed me that the name of the game, quite literally, is Aunt Sally's sticks. Players throw sticks at the ball (known as the "dolly") which is placed on the wooden spike that you see in the picture. The objective? Knock down the dolly without hitting the spike. Sounds pretty straight forward in theory but probably less than straight-forward in practice. Particularly if my ten pin bowling skills are anything to go by.
I made it back to the table just as lunch was being served. Perfect timing GW! Craig had opted for the traditional Sunday roast. With beef:
It was served with creamy, cauliflower cheese:
And the crunchiest most colourful vegetables in the world:
The goat's cheese, tomato and shallot tarte tatin was my dish of choice. This is how it looked upon arrival:
Two minutes later:
And two minutes after that:
I didn't like it. Not one bit. I really didn't like this either:
Who am I kidding??
No-one that's who. Every single mouthful, each individual morsel was fuel for my body, mind and soul. Craigy Boy was equally as enamoured with his Sunday roast and was also rather taken with the napkins:
In conclusion there is only one conclusion:
that The Muddy Duck lives up to its reputation of outstanding eatery and then some. Neither Craigy Boy nor I could find fault with a single aspect of our dining experience and we are already chomping at the (brownie) bit for our next visit. Granted, it's not the cheapest pub lunch/dinner you'll find in the county but you know the old saying: "You get what you pay for"? We didn't feel short changed in the slightest.
You can peruse the menu and drool profusely by clicking HERE. To make a reservation call the Muddy Ducksters on 01869 278099. A very warm and friendly welcome awaits and that's a GW guarantee.