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Reviewing The Dundas Arms in Kintbury

PUBLISHED: 10:48 22 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:10 24 January 2019

The Dundas Arms

The Dundas Arms

Archant

At riverside destination pub The Dundas Arms, Sarah Rodi enjoyed a true taste of the British countryside

It was a cold, dark winter’s night and the snow was just starting to fall. Anticipation built as we drove down the winding country lanes. And when we came to the bridge overlooking the river and saw the welcoming glow of lights from inside The Dundas Arms, it warmed our hearts. Perched perfectly on an island between the River Kennet and the Kennet and Avon Canal, the setting of the inn in Kintbury is hard to beat.

And stepping inside the 18th century Grade II listed inn, decorated in gorgeous country-house style, we were greeted with a roaring log fire and a glass of sloe gin fizz. There are lots of nooks and crannies where you can sit and chat undisturbed, with bold blue walls that add a depth and warmth, making the space feel cosy and intimate. But we weren’t here to be anti-social; we had heard great things about the newly refurbished pub, and had chosen the Great British Game Week dinner with Jose Souto as the night to check it out.

We tucked into a selection of canapés, including smoked pheasant breast and pheasant rillettes crostini, venison bon bons with horseradish crème fraîche and Thai partridge kebabs with a hot and sour dip. They were all divine, but the venison bon bons were best − they were so moreish.

When it was time for dinner, we made our way into the handsomely decorated dining room. We had the honour of sitting near to Jose Souto himself, whose passion for game was infectious.

The seasonal menu at the inn makes the most of local produce from the surrounding rivers and countryside.

The venison main and gamekeeper's pieThe venison main and gamekeeper's pie

Our first course was southern-fried buttermilk partridge. It tasted like an expensive goujon, but with much more flavour − a great alternative to chicken.

“Seasonal, local food is what we live by at The Dundas Arms,” says landlord Lee Hart. “We have five game dishes on the menu during game season. We try to make game as accessible as we can to everyone.”

For main, out came roasted haunch of Berkshire venison, gamekeeper’s pie, braised red cabbage, Vichy bunched carrots with a juniper and red wine sauce. The wild meat − a little like beef but with

a fuller, richer flavour; firm, but not chewy − was truly delicious. And for dessert, even though we were full to bursting, regretting being so greedy and having all those venison bon bons, we couldn’t turn down the spiced sticky apple and pear cake.

Needing to stretch our legs, we stepped outside into the garden for a breath of fresh air and discovered it was huge; the perfect place for al fresco dining in the summer.

The Dundas Arms also has eight elegant bedrooms, many overlooking the canal, so we left knowing we’d be back −but next time to enjoy a weekend retreat by the water.

dundasarms.co.uk

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