Livestock of Goring beware

THE LEATHERNE BOTTEL

Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG8 OHS. Tel: 01491 872667 Open every day for lunch and dinner. Average price for three courses, pounds 35 per person. All credit cards except American Express accepted

THE Leatherne Bottel, by the Thames at Goring, is not quite what you would expect from the name. It is probably easiest to reach by car, but there is quite a pleasant 20-minute walk from Goring and Streatley station along an ancient footpath just above the river. It is marked as being part of the Ridgeway, but has become rather hemmed in during the past 100 years by high brick walls and fences built by those who own the river frontage. There are still some pretty glimpses of riverside gardens, one of them called Nuns' Acre, and the experience might give you an appetite for lunch.

The restaurant, looking more like a pub, with a lot of shrubs in pots outside and a riverside garden full of white plastic armchairs, is at the bottom of a steep concreted drive, with parking space for cars. The other noticeable feature outside is a kitsch statue of a naked girl in iron, holding a similarly wrought container of flowers - a theme continued indoors, where smaller iron maidens stretch and twist on every table and bar top, and the Gents is decorated with pictures from girlie magazines of sun-tanned lovelies reclining on rocks.

From the Osbert Lancaster cast of pop-eyed old colonels and their frail ladies, I took the lunchtime clientele to be largely retired folk. But then other marginally younger people like myself sneaked in, who should have been at work, and for anyone similarly off the leash at that time of day there are few places I would recommend more highly. You might have your reservations about the white plastic armchairs or the black iron sculptures (not to mention the soft-core erotica in the Gents) but the food is extraordinarily good.

My guest was a long-term heroine who vividly remembers the end of the First World War, and whom I had last met the week before in the thick of a fashionable dance-floor at half past one in the morning. When she arrived I was struggling to understand what I took to be the menu, which offered a 34ft Edwardian Saloon Lunch. This turned out to be "Launch", and was part of a chatty, handwritten little card, decorated with pink ribbon, that offered not only the Lunch Natasha - "Ideal for a business meeting" - but marquees, string quartets and jazz bands, and urged customers to linger, enjoy the hospitality, and order some more wine. "And don't forget: Monday to Friday, pop in for a starter, maybe followed by a starter. But always reserve a table."

This policy was repeated on the main menu, which suggested in its preamble that we should "feel free to pop in for a salad, maybe a bowl of mussels, or simply mushrooms on toast - just meet for a glass of champagne by the river." This, I should explain, is the marketing equivalent of scattering bait to get the fish biting. "We have an excellent supply of caviar," the handwritten introduction concludes. "Just ask." Popping into The Leatherne Bottel is a great deal easier than popping out of it.

What this place provides could not conceivably be described as pub grub. My date asked for "a delicate scallop soup flavoured with Japanese Miso, Wakerne seaweed, galangal, sweet ginger and coconut dumplings". Scallops weren't available, so salmon was offered instead. My friend said she'd rather have it without the salmon, and from the spoonful I tasted it seemed delicious. I asked for "Lambs' brains pan-fried crisp with ground lemon grass and roast sesame seeds, with chargrilled ciabatta, chickweed and lemon thyme jelly".

As my brains arrived, my companion chose to tell me the story of a poor young couple who, when entertaining one of the husband's former school friends, were only able to afford brains. The guest said that he'd rather not eat them, and on being asked why, pointed out that he was a brain surgeon. I was undaunted, and even a brain surgeon would have enjoyed the fried lambs' brains on toast - brown and crisp outside, white and so melting inside that they required very little surgery. The slightly weird-sounding jelly was very good with them.

For her main course, my comedienne friend had a starter-size "roast local suckling pig, off the bone, marinated with lemon leaves, ginger, coriander and lemon thyme, with crisp crackling and red chilli pasta". From the small sample I tasted, it was good and interesting - though the crackling was not crisp like the crackling at The People's Palace, the restaurant I reviewed a few weeks ago. Indeed it was not crisp at all, which was a pity.

I ordered "local duck". It struck me that with this and the roast local suckling pig on the menu, local livestock of any kind might be advised to give The Leatherne Bottel a wide berth. The duck was "braised for two hours on the bone with rosemary and shallots, served with roquette and sorrel leaves and garden herb vinaigrette". I was reminded of the cooking at The Castle at Taunton, another favourite haunt: meat shredded by spending a long time in the oven, falling off the bone but still full of flavour.

Though not much bigger than an ordinary pub, the restaurant is well arranged inside: no table is too close to any other, and even if I hadn't been happily engrossed in memories of John Betjeman and tales of country houses before the war, the most intrusive of voices wouldn't have troubled us. Our sense of privacy may have been imagined, however, and I shall no doubt read a transcript of our conversation in the restaurant column of Rubber News or some other rival publication.

We had until now been working our way through a bottle (glass rather than leatherne) of Macon Lugny at pounds 10, which seemed perfectly all right to me, and my guest had a glass of house red with her local pig at pounds 2.50 a glass. This was also perfectly all right, as were the two glasses of house white we had had before we went into lunch. For pudding, I had a brandy-snap basket of raspberries and she had a slice of apple tart, both of which were exceptionally good. Lunch for two, including the wine but without a tip, came to pounds 65.70.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
Crime watch: Cara Delevingne and Daniel Brühl in ‘The Face of an Angel’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
News
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss