I was arriving late on a wet Thursday for lunch. My lunch partner got to the inn on time and rang me in the car to ask how long I was going to be. "We may have to let our table go and eat later" he said," the place is rammed and there is a waiting list"
At this point I was on a narrow windy lane dodging pheasants by the dozen, "Fine what ever" I replied," if its a problem when I get there we can move on somewhere else" Long Silence from my friend, "Just get here"
No pub parking at all,but no yellow lines anywhere in this very quaint village/hamlet. Parked the car opposite, and wondered into the rear shabby chic garden to be greeted by 5 beautiful ladies, all very attentive and very pleased to see me.
Excusing myself from the ladies I entered the pub, just brilliant. A friend of mine would have wrongly describe it, Kak everywhere, I would say very cleverly deployed meaningless bits and pieces, and lots of them, I was slowly falling in love.
Despite my tardy arrival, a cheerful greeting from the gent behind the bar who received my apology and made me feel as though it could not matter less.
He produced a menu, then proceeded to tell me what was sold out, thankfully mainly the fresh fresh, so as a pair of raving carnivores we were not at all bothered.
Both of us plumped for the roast beef, both intrigued by the .....served with dripping toast.
We were shown to our table and in timely fashion our meal arrived.
I travel and eat out a lot, never before have I wanted to photograph a plate of food. As I write this I wish I had, but when I suggested I might, my colleague shook his head in a way that said, please don't behave as though you have never eaten out before.
The beef was some of the best I have ever eaten, the roasts were perfect, the kale and whole carrot devoured, (I generally dislike both), the dripping toast was divine, and the gravy, well Granny do turn in your grave, it was just the best.
If anything the dessert options were limited, the main had awoken taste buds in me that had been in a coma for donkeys years, and I was desperate for a range of boy's puds, spotted dick, or bread and butter pudding as I believed that this kitchen would just take them to another level. Not to be, so enjoyed a very pleasing cheesecake.
I can imagine that Horseguards gets tested in terms of service both front of house and in the kitchen when it is packed and the garden heaving. The trading space inside is tight, but quite frankly if you are on a dining speed date this may not be for you, we were dining at about 2.30pm, the service was great, I think you may have gathered that I loved the food, but the most impressive thing was that even though we were at the end of service, not for one second did I feel we were either getting food that would have been better at mid-day, or that the team had had enough, and boy had they been busy.
So to all at the Horseguards, 5 stars from me at every level, and despite the distance I will be back, if for nothing else, I already miss those lovely ladies in the garden, I trust they are just for eggs, and never for the pot.