A comfy spot to while away an autumn afternoon

The Shoulder of Mutton, Longhorsley
The Shoulder of Mutton, Longhorsley

Autumn is now well and truly upon us, albeit we didn’t have much of a summer, and for me there’s nothing nicer than a Sunday lunch in a cosy pub.

With that in mind, I headed southwards with the Shoulder of Mutton at Longhorsley the destination.

It was a particularly useful location for us as we were meeting friends from the south of the county, and it offered a convenient halfway point.

Indeed, the pub’s spot right on the side of the A697 is a very easy place to get to, if you decide to travel from further afield.

The pub offers rooms as well so it could offer a handy stop-off point for tourists and visitors as well.

Having arrived slightly ahead of our dining time, we decided to enjoy a drink in the bar, which is quite large but cosy with an array of soft chairs and sofas as well as more standard tables.

Visitors are welcome to dine in the bar area as well as in next door’s Boundary Restaurant and quite a number of people, some perhaps who had just dropped in, had taken up this option.

Being a country pub, real ale is offered alongside the usual pub selection of beers, ciders and wine, and a guest ale from Oxfordshire took my fancy when we went.

I noticed that there was a sheet pinned up by the bar with information about the guest beers, which is a nice touch for those that take their drinking more seriously.

As we had booked in advance, we ate in the Boundary Restaurant, which is slightly smarter than the bar area and clearly for dining, although it isn’t too formal or pretentious, keeping to the country pub style.

The Shoulder of Mutton’s menu on its website had piqued my curiosity, but Sunday offers up a carvery, which is available from noon until 6pm.

Three different meats were on offer – in our case beef, gammon and turkey – and an adult meal is priced at a fairly reasonable £7.95.

Children’s portions are available for £4 while for the real carnivores, an £8.95 trio of meats option is on offer.

Children are well catered for and a number of other diners, of which there were plenty, had children eating with them.

Rather boringly, the four in our party all opted for the beef, due to a mixture of beef being a favourite, concern over whether you could have a Yorkshire pudding with anything but beef and the worry at how the gravy would go with the gammon.

A small selection of starters are on the menu for those with larger appetites, although nothing grabbed my attention, particularly when I had spotted the blackboard of desserts containing a wide selection of dishes that sounded very appetising.

The beef itself was good, and a generous portion for the price with two hefty slices on the plate, but while it was pretty pink, it was not perhaps as tender as I would have liked.

The accompaniments were very good though, quite notable as sometimes at a carvery, the potatoes and the vegetables sit under the heat lamps going hard.

On offer were roast and boiled potatoes – the roasties were nice and crisp, cabbage, carrots, swede mash and peas.

The carrots and swede were particularly tasty – sweet and bursting with flavour.

The stuffing and Yorkshire puddings were good too.

One moan I have, which applies more generally to carveries than just the Shoulder of Mutton, is that the plates you are given are noticeably smaller than those if you order food from the á la carte menu.

I’m a greedy person and I resent the amount I can eat being limited by the fact I have to pile it onto a smaller-than-usual plate.

The desserts managed to lift the meal to a higher level though, as I thought they were very good, and quite well-priced at £4.50.

Three of us opted for the banoffee pie, a personal favourite of mine, and it didn’t disappoint.

The bananas were fresh, the base was crumbly and buttery and the toffee was just the right level of sweetness, all topped off with whipped cream and served with ice cream.

The non-banana eater among us opted for the caramel and apple pie, of which I was afforded a little taste, and it too went down very well.

All of the desserts were presented well with a neat slice and drizzled raspberry coulis.

At the end of it all, I left full and satisfied.