I’ve always had a soft spot for greyhounds. I’ve never owned one myself but my Granny and Granddad used to race them when my mum was younger. I’ve listened to tales of how she and her sister used to accompany Granddad up to the Cowley track on the outskirts of Oxford, folded into the back of his green Morris Minor knocked knees tucked under their chins. There, while my Granddad went about his business, my mum and aunt would amuse themselves collecting the used ticket and betting stubs from the previous races which they would trade with Granddad for a bottle of pop and bag of sweets.
Thankfully there’s no need to collect litter for a good feed at The Greyhound, a quite superb inn in Letcombe Regis. A short stride from the Chilterns, but within easy reach from Oxford, The Greyhound has quietly, but surely, been collecting awards and recognition for its offering of refined British food.
Letcombe Regis is a charming sort of place, a quintessential English village of caramel-coloured stone houses in the flat Oxfordshire countryside. And, in what sadly cannot always be said to be the case, The Greyhound sits proudly at the heart of the community. Indeed when I visited the, admittedly rather well-heeled, chap on the next table was telling his companions (visitors from London, I think – I’m quite an eavesdropper…) about how lucky he and his wife were to have this place on their doorstep. And I have to say, I agree.
The a la carte menu, which changes readily, is one of the trickiest I’ve ever had to choose from. I could have genuinely eaten anything from it and been very happy. I plumped for a clever starter of duck ham and beetroot, the rich earthiness of the two ingredients offset with the zing of pickled blackberries, and for mains roast guinea fowl, perfectly pink, served with the softest garlic buttermilk puree. And by the time I’d polished off the cheeseboard of three local cheese (served with a fantastic sticky chutney), I could no more have mustered the energy to stroke a rabbit let alone chase one around a track.
Good job, then, that as well as its award-winning food fare The Greyhound offers eight sumptuous rooms, making it a charming place for a night away. My room was at the top of the 18th-century building, and it was a decadent place to relax after dinner. The suite stretched out in three separate areas: a comfy king-sized bedroom; a small sort of sitting room; and at the end a gorgeous bathroom with wonderful roll-top bath. After a soak, I climbed into bed and found re-runs of River Cottage on TV, absolutely dog tired. The next morning, all too early as work beckoned, I enjoyed an excellent cooked breakfast served alongside a range of pastries, cereals and juices.
A mile up the road from The Greyhound lies the Ridgeway and many of the trail’s hikers and bikers use the Inn as a stop-off point before continuing their way into the Chilterns and I can’t think of a better place to stop. Welcoming and friendly staff, a warm local-led atmosphere and gorgeous rooms and food – I’ll definitely be back.
The Greyhound Inn
Main St, Letcombe Regis, Wantage OX12 9JL