What to do to celebrate the first truly hot day in Oxford? Why, take a 10 mile hike of course! With crystal blue skies, we headed out of Oxford and up through Headington to the small village of Stanton St. John's, known for its...well, its....well, for the fact that it's a small cute town within walking distance of Oxford. It has a Norman Church. It has pretty thatched roofs. It has two pubs. Next door to one another. Need I say more?
The one we chose was the TalkHouse which according to its website had been recently redone and was now serving the gastro-pub crowd.
The customers looked mostly local to us but the service was friendly and the food good. They offered an extensive menu of all standard pub favorites but they sold me on the various nibbles and "country board" options. Put any variety of snacks/tapas on a wooden plank and I'm happy. Don't make me choose one main meal, I'd rather have about 10 different appetizers any day. We invested in the parma ham, bread basket, calamari, and "veggie" country board. All of which was good except for the calamari which seemed to resemble nothing so much as very thin very pointless onion rings. There was barely a hint of squid to be seen. Not that I would complain against anything battered and deep fried (see previous posts), but I at least wanted a hint of the delicious squid in there somewhere.
Beers on offer were fairly standard, I went my usual route of a Bulmers Pear, always delicious, particularly on a hot late spring day.
Dessert was an off-season sticky toffee pudding. Not the right choice for an 80 degree day but delicious nonetheless, served with vanilla bean ice cream and some sort of pistachio wafer.
The pub itself is rustic gastro, with exposed beams and amusing old brass spigots hanging from the walls. The place inside is cavernous but there is a lovely garden patio which is perfect for spring and summer lunching.
The walk from the middle of Oxford should take about an hour and a half, depending on speed. You have to walk through a bit of town and negotiate the bypass to get through to the lovely Oxford countryside.