We review the Durham Ox at Shrewley
Superb dishes assured at the Durham Ox
Karen Jones revisits the rejuvenated Durham Ox in Shrewley, which has been delighting customers since the 18th century
The Durham Ox, set in rural Shrewley, has been welcoming customers through its doors since 1764.
Inevitably, over those 248 years, there have been some changes, and now new owner Sally Lowe has added her own mark to this gorgeous countryside Warwickshire pub and restaurant.
While it maintains its 18th character of exposed beams, oak floors and log fire in colder months, the pub has been refreshed and rejuvenated, thanks to Sally’s undoubted attention to detail.
Since she took over running of the Durham Ox last summer, she has gained a reputation for excellent customer service and for serving excellent food.
A local woman, she was keen to bring her local pub back to its former glory.
She has done a fine job.
The refurbished interior is warm and welcoming and the eclectic, yet very stylish bar area leads to a relaxed dining area, which is suitable for business lunches, romantic meals à deux, family suppers or private dining for up to ten people.
Saleem Ahmed has been brought in as head chef and his wealth of experience has ensured that the team in the kitchen creates dishes that surpass expectations of even the most discerning diner. Keen to use locally sourced produce wherever possible, Saleem has several hand-picked his preferred suppliers to maintain quality control.
We dined midweek and were encouraged to see the numbers of diners in the restaurant.
Our starters set the scene for what I can only describe as an excellent meal.
The summer root vegetable salad with lemon and rosemary ricotta, served with truffle, lemon and Hockley Heath honey dressing, was a simple dish that provided different textures and complementing flavours. The finely sliced vegetables combined with chives, parsley, tarragon, chervil and fresh homemade ricotta created the perfect summer starter.
We also ordered the scallops with black pudding mash on a golden sultana and beurre noisette dressing. This was a very generous portion: three sautéed plump king scallops and a mound of flavourful mash, served with finely chopped chives and orange zest. Simple and utterly delicious.
As goat’s cheese is a favourite ingredient of mine, I chose goat’s cheese mousse with mixed leaf salad. It was light and refreshing and I loved the fact that it also had lightly pickled beetroot and a maple syrup dressing which really lifted the rich cheese mousse.
My partner ordered the terrine of corn-fed chicken, baby leeks and pickled mushrooms served with pear and saffron chutney. It was utterly wonderful: the flavours complimented each other perfectly and the crispy chicken skin added an additional texture.
The high standard was maintained throughout the main courses. Chargrilled ox liver served with pickled shallot mash, summer greens, crispy pancetta, and a red onion fondue was delightful. The ox liver was served pink, although chef would have been happy to cook it a little more if requested.
My crab risotto, with white Devon crabmeat, was served with pancetta, lemon pickle and olive oil. Just perfect for a warm summer’s evening. The rice was cooked perfectly and the crispy pancetta, with the tang of the lemon preserve, gave it an added dimension that set this dish apart.
My partner’s slow-cooked Dexter Jacobs Ladder was served with truffle mash and Bourguignon sauce. These braised beef ribs were beautifully cooked and the meat melted in the mouth. It was complemented by a fantastic dish of buttered baby spinach.
Portobello mushroom Gorgonzola gnocchi with rocket and shaved fennel was another dish that elicited many compliments. The strong blue cheese enveloped the plump parcels, while the peppery rocket and aniseed fennel added layers of different flavours and texture.
Those of you who have a sweet tooth will be pleased to read that there is an excellent dessert menu.
The coffee panacotta was encrusted with amaretti crumb and was served alongside small cubes of coffee jelly, sticky raisin syrup, caramelised pineapple with a hint of chilli, as well as mango sorbet and Malibu syrup. It sounds very complex, yet the flavours worked very well together. This was superb.
I adore Eton mess and was pleased to find a variation on this traditional dessert – drunken banana Eton mess. This dish of banana cooked in rum was served in a Martini glass and came with vanilla cream and toffee sauce. Divine!
Our meal was faultless and the knowledgeable and efficient staff were excellent.
Saleem has created an excellent menu, which is drawing in customers from far and wide. Excellent food that is served in such a relaxed, warm and friendly pub/restaurant means that the Durham Ox under Sally Lowe is as good as it once was. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that it exceeded our expectations.
111 Shrewley Common, Shrewley, Warwick, Warwickshire, CV35 7AY Tel: 01926 842283