When it comes to getting away for a weekend in the winter most Londoners are looking for three things; a cosy location, scrumptious food and a hassle-free journey. Thankfully, The Miller of Mansfield has all three.
Nestled at the heart of Goring-on-Thames around eight miles north-west of Reading The Miller lies at the meeting point of the Chilterns and North Wessex Downs. The railway station is on the main line between Oxford and London and its riverside plain houses the residential area of the village including its high street, which has a few shops, public houses and restaurants.
If you didn’t know any better you’d think you were a million miles from London, with smells of log fires emanating from the cosy homes, pubs and restaurants. But that’s part of the beauty – in an hour or so you’re back in Paddington or motoring towards Clapham Junction, which gives you plenty of time to enjoy the surrounds.
The Miller of Mansfield is a modern inn that is home to Nick and Mary Galer, who’s passion is to bring people together over good food. Nick was Heston Blumenthal’s opening head chef of The Crown at Bray, and before that learned his trade under the watchful eye of Roux Scholar, Matthew Tomkinson, so expect refined, but not showy, dining whether you opt for the 3 course a la carte or Nick’s 9 course signature menu.
We opted for the latter, and what an adventure it turned out to be.
Each course was both a treat on the eye and a treat for the tastebuds, reflecting seasonal ingredients transformed into playful mouthfuls that provided surprises that their simple descriptions were too subtle to infer. Every plateful got us talking.
The accompanying wine flight (extra if you opt for it) is a series of wines by the glass spontaneously selected by Mary to suit that evening’s tasting menu. If you miss Friday’s happy hour, the gin collection will keep you occupied pre-dinner if you can pull your head out of a lengthy but accessible wine list (all handpicked by Mary).
After 9 courses, the short flight of stairs up to the rooms is manageable. And each room brings its own surprises. Our night in Wigston Magna combined awesome snoozing – I want one of those mattresses – with a bath that dreams are made of – shareable if you’re prepared to move over – and a statement decor that’s memorable for being exactly that: bold metallic wallpaper, mirrored bedside tables, Victoria fireplace and antique armoire alongside some Philippe Starck perspex. It works.
Breakfast is as tasty as you’d expect on the hot plate front (no baked beans here mind) and plentifully healthy if you opt only for continental. Don’t drag your heels getting outside, the towpath beckons, even for us urbanites, and Goring’s foodie feel presents ample brunch, lunch and coffee options all with an artisan feel. If you must hot-foot it back to town, grab some lunch (and treats) from Goring Grocer to keep the taste with you as long as possible.