East Northamptonshire is a beautiful part of England to visit in Autumn, with the fallen leaves sharp against the honeyed stone. And the World Conker Championships.
Apart from Corby, with it’s Deuchars IPA and Haggis, the highlight is Oundle, famous for the bloke behind this classic beer.
And Louise Mensch.
Goodness me it’s an old fashioned place, dominated by a private school housing a fifth of the population.
It has the same feel as a smart Montgomeryshire town, full of preserved shop fronts and absolutely dead on a Monday afternoon. A good half a dozen independent coffee shops must get their business from somewhere.
No street art, astonishingly, but some great tiling in the butchers.
Even in Northamptonshire, 14 year old public schoolboys aren’t served beer, so the pub scene remains as scant as ever in Oundle. The Ship has long been the town’s most likely Beer Guide entry, and still looks the most inviting.
In such a traditional town, the ultra-modern Tap & Kitchen is therefore a big thing for Oundle. Effectively a showcase for Nene Valley Brewery, but mainly a top quality bistro type place to compete with the excellent pubs in Aston and Polebrook.
You’ll be familiar with the look of the bar area.
Tap & Kitchen part of a smart little complex at the old wharf, with an artisan bakery, bike shop and wine shop adding up to Oundle’s equivalent of a garden centre.
Not many takers for the cask on a Tuesday lunchtime, but the house Bitter was well presented and tasty (NBSS 3). There’s a distinct bar area but I can’t imagine many folk come here without eating. That said the next table then ordered a tasting flight of half a dozen Nene Valley brews, which seems a good way to spend an afternoon.
Your views on the décor may differ from those of Mrs RM.
I thought it was quirky.
The lunch was really exceptional, both for the food, service and the “drama”. Goodness knows what BRAPA Simon will make of it.
Starting with a lady asking whether she’d left her child behind (she wasn’t sure), an impassioned debate concluding with gherkins being exchanged for chips, and a rather-too-loud gent who used the phrase “the undefinable moi” to describe himself, it was Shakespearean in breadth and humour. All included in the price of the burger.
We may well return again soon, but only if the charred chorizo and peas are back on the menu. That’s another gem from the table to my left by the way.