Summer menu tasting at Grange Farm, Oadby

We were invited to Grange Farm in Oadby last week to taste their new summer menu. Part of the Vintage Inns group, Grange Farm is a chocolate box perfect pub, just outside of Oadby town. It is really in a beautiful setting and the best place for relaxing over dinner on a warm summer’s evening. The staff were super helpful and it was a real pleasure to meet the landlady, Karina, who was passionate about the menu – food and wine.

A lovely mix of bloggers and locals gathered

We were treated to tasters of a broad variety of the dishes on offer. I can never decide whether I’d prefer tasters or a proper meal, to really get a feel for the presentation and overall balance of the meal, but by jingo they gave us a good feed and there was a real variety on offer so I cannot complain!

We started off with a glass of Prosecco Ca’belli, which is the only fizz that they do by the glass, for £3.85. I thought this was surprisingly good for the prive – delicate, floral nose and then light peach and flowery flavours in th emouth, with soft bubbles and a delicate texture, followed by a soft backnote of strawberry. For the price you can’t go wrong. Definitely the nicest glass of Prosecco I have had for a while, and I’ve definitely worked my way through a couple of late.

After the welcome drink, sharing platters were brought round the room for us to try. Given that everyone in the room was a foodie, it quickly became clear that if you snoozed, you would lose. The first platter was the butcher’s selection, showcasing some of the meaty treats from the new starter menu. We weren’t quite quick enough off the mark for that one, hence the quality of the photograph!! These platters are available in full on the menu.

The highlight here for me was the crackling, which was crispy and flavourful. The pork pie topped with Piccalilli was also met with much approval on our table, although was not for me. The ribs were tender and literally fell off the bone. They were not quite at the exceptional level of the ribs at Marco’s, but were definitely well flavoured, sticky and satisfying, so a close second.

We planned our attack for the second sharing platter and managed to intercept one right out of the kitchen. This was a selection of the seafood offerings. The highlights here were the crispy crunch of the calamari, which was deliciously soft inside and the deep smoked salmon which was full of smokey flavour and went excellently with the crusty brown bread and butter.

Next came our first ‘food on spoon’. Great to have a convenient vehicle to taste from, but I think here I would definitely have preferred to see the dish in full presentation. These were langoustines and mussels, deep fried and served with a dill pickle hollandaise. Again, like the calamari they were perfectly cooked to have a satisfying crunch but the seafood still to be fresh and soft on the inside. Full of the flavour of the sea, this one certainly left me wanting more.

Halloumi and chips
Lamb kofta

The starters just kept on coming – you can see that there is a huge variety available on this menu. You can see by the hand in the photo that the lamb koftas were a huge hit, in fact this was probably my favourite dish of the evening overall. They’re garbanzo dip accompaniment was proper garlicky, just how you would want it and the koftas were flavourful and moist. I would definitely pick that dish next time I visit for food and at £5.75 the price isn’t too bad either.

Following this was another vegetarian choice, the halloumi and chips. This was the dish I found to be most confusing. Served in a cask ale beer batter, again the batter and the chips were crisp, but I just didn’t feel that battering the halloumi works. It left it quite moist and the texture was a little too loose for me. Call me a traditionalist, but I like my halloumi with deep char-lines on the outside and a closer texture. I think the deep frying may have led to the cheese being steamed a little, which was not really to my taste. The menu tells me that this is normally served with mushy peas, so I would be interested to see how that flavour combination works out. The dill pickle it came with was sweet and tangy, very enjoyable.

Duck salad

Starters over, I could already feel myself getting rather full, but luckily we were back to small tasters and food on spoons next so we were all able to soldier on. The duck salad was moist and flavourful, served on a lettuce leaf. I didn’t feel there was quite enough pomegranate, but I would imagine that this was a consequence of them providing bite sized serves, the fruit would be much better distributed on the main meal.

The main event was lamb two ways served on a spoon. This was the lamb rump and mini shepherd’s pie. Impossible to photograph and difficult to judge from one spoonsful, the lamb was all tender and tasty but I wasn’t able to really get an idea of what the whole meal would actually be like. Have to pop back and try that one properly.

We also tried the pizzetta, which is apparently not a pizza due to it having a different kind of dough. The base was quite thick and close set in texture, but this meant it held the toppings well and was an enjoyable morsel. The crunchy slaw it was served with was creamy and fresh tasting, so that was a highlight accompaniment.

And, to stop us all from falling asleep from the vast quantity of food we had tried, we were next plied with sugar in the form of an Eton Mess sample. This had strawberries and blackberries and a lovely delicate flavour from the rosehip syrup which added a real taste of the English countryside. This tasty treat was enough to perk us up and keep us going for what turned out to be the biggest cheeseboard any of us had ever seen! The mature cheddar was delicious and I liked the quality of the biscuits that were served with it, they were absolutely spot on.

Meanwhile, we sampled some delicious wines off the menu. If you’re stopping by to share a bottle with dinner I would highly recommend the Oyster Bay Pinot Noir, 2013. This costs £20.95 a bottle and is a medium bodied wine with a vegetal, earthy nose and a cherry, punchy taste which also matched really well with the cheddar on the cheese board, but I would guess would also have affinities with either the duck salad or indeed the lamb two ways.

I also enjoyed a glass of the Vina Collada Rioja, 2011, which was deep garnet in colour, gave fruit on the nose with a soft hint of oak. In the mouth it was rich and rounded with blackberry and a slight hint of spice. It was full bodied, but easy drinking, and a great surprise for one of the mid-range wines available by the glass on the menu. I would happily pair it up with the butcher’s selection platter.

Thanks to Karina and her team for inviting us along to the event and treating us so amazingly well. Definitely worth the 20 mile round trip cycle to get there!


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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