While sipping a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, breathing out the stresses of deadlines and attuning my ears to a cover of Bob Dylan by the local band, my first thoughts upon The Miller of Mansfield, was ‘I’m home’. Watching Friday night regulars revelling in their weekly catch ups over a drink or three and the busy staff serving behind the bar and in the adjacent restaurant, it was clear to see why the locals flock to this gem in the heart of Goring-on-Thames.
Wind back a few years, centuries in fact, it’s not so hard to picture The Miller of Mansfield himself in his 18th century coaching inn, who quite unfortunately offered a seemingly lowly ‘stranger’ poached venison. A stranger whom, to his dismay, turned out to be King Henry II! To beg ones pardon, following the act of offering one poached Venison, the King demanded that The Miller of Mansfield establish an Inn in Goring to serve him and to this very day, the name has remained the same.
Situated in the very heart of the village, its position and loyalty can certainly not be denied. On visiting The Miller of Mansfield, one is certainly struck by two things; the mere hour it takes to get there from London and how very far away from the capital it seems. Surrounded by quaint buildings and village shops, Goring-on-Thames is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of London, yet in reality, just a hop down the Thames.
Due to its central location, car parking is amiss, however with thanks to its small village location the public car park is merely a 2 minute walk from the entrance and relatively good value. Upon entering The Miller of Mansfield, the decor is classic and recognisable of that of a restaurant pub, however very much attuned to its description as ‘the modern Inn’. After being taken over management by Mary and Nick in April 2014, two seasonairres addicted to French mountain hospitality and serving in only the very best manner, The Miller of Mansfield is brimming with character. With open fire places, cosy nooks and original features, the inn is so very inviting. There is nothing more absorbing than putting your feet up and enjoying a relaxed and traditional, yet plush, atmosphere.
The rooms had their charms too, with 13 en-suite rooms up for grabs. Staying in the Wigston Magna, quite literally above the restaurant, the room was tasteful with a view over the courtyard. Boasting huge windows, the room was filled with natural light and the super king size bed was plush and extremely comfortable – perfect for the snoozers among us.
What can’t be overlooked however is the rather impressive and enviable bathroom. As one that associates a bath with all of the niceties in life, I let out an excited shriek as my eyes fell upon one of the largest and deepest bath tubs I ever did see. Pure luxury, the bath had its own seat and was complimented and perfectly completed by Ren products. The bathroom was certainly one of the nicest we had seen.
The warmth of the restaurant was quite literally evident from the moment we made the short walk from our room to the comfortably busy and ambient area. Food is very much at the heart of The Miller of Mansfield experience and with the impressive accolade of Restaurant of the Year as voted for by the Waitrose Good Food Guide certainly a testament. Nick is the man of the moment when it comes to the food here, having previously worked in the like of Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck Group in Bray. As we were told pre-dinner Nick’s food ethos is two fold: ‘eat fine food without formality and think of food as more than just fuel. Savour each dish; enjoy and explore each flavour’ and were we disappointed? Absolutely not.
Presented with a quite frankly opulent and splendid bespoke Signature Menu we were thrilled to be able to experience fine dining and explore the depths of our taste buds, without the formal and straight cut atmosphere that is so often associated with such dining. Beginning our taste journey, we enjoyed a Sack of Miller Bread accompanied with good old fashion butter and also tried our hands at tasting a Bacon butter, not one for me personally but my other half very much enjoyed it. Moving on swiftly, we were presented with an aesthetically thrilling board of canapés. A brilliant way to begin our meal? We think so.
Offering a tasting menu as a premium service to its customers, this really is the best way to experience the impressive culinary skills that Nick has under his belt. From Glazed Wood Pigeon and Spiced Monkfish Tail to Button Mushroom Soup and Smoked Black Angus Steak, the eating experience at The Miller of Mansfield is far more than just that. Its an adventure, of the taste buds and of your mind, incorporating all of the senses, taking you to a place that you have never tasted before.
For an insane food experience, comfortable sound sleep and an escape away from the madness that envelops the city, The Miller of Mansfield is absolutely the epitome of country escape.