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 Iron Maiden singer. 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.

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.

No beer mats

I thought it was quirky. he lunch was really exceptional, both for the food, service and the “drama”.  Goodness knows what BRAPA 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.


  1. The main point to be answered is surely how they pronounce Nene in Oundle. Is it the Rushden way or the Posh way? I’ve always favours the Posh way.

    The main thing that disappoints me about the photograph of the pub is that there are at least 3 CCTV cameras. Lack of beer mats ceilings and reasonable prices are all secondary matters to this.

    Children forgotten in pubs should be fed into mincing machines for the local butcher or the pub itself if they sell such food items.

    I can define Mr Undefinable. He is a twat. Apologies to any younger readers, but I feel I have no choice.


      1. I don’t believe we visited the ones you mention. We did visit the Shuckburgh Arms which was a really friendly pub. They had a large group of local men for some event. Possibly a hunting event. They were crowded around the bar yet the publican was able to accommodate us in a very friendly fashion. Took quite a bit of time out to help me order. Not your typical way of dealing with a foreign customer during a busy time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s