When I was invited to the Mash Inn – I naturally thought its name referred to potatoes…and looked forward to seeing the potato menu. But I was later to find out that there is a Mr Mash, who has transformed a run-down coaching inn built in 1745 into a boutique gastro pub in a location that does not get much lovelier than the village of Radnage, in Buckinghamshire.
I always think of people who name business ventures after themselves as possibly being rather vain and self-obsessed, but when I meet Nick Mash later he is not at all like that. A quiet unassuming chap in his very early 40s, he ran various gastronomic ventures in north west London’s before leaving London for a new entrepreneurial venture in this beautiful county village. He trained in art at Christie’s but his family, he says were in ‘fruit and veg’ which is why emblem of The Mash is the pineapple. He stays in the background ensuring everything is running smoothly while his team get on with service. And the service is friendly and excellent.
I drive out of London mid-morning on a Saturday – along the M40 and exit at Stokenchurch…and pass what looks like a small and very old pub called the Three Horseshoes. So I park and go in to ask if this is The Mash Inn? Turns out that it is the place and the new signage has not yet been put up.
The Mash Inn has only been open for a couple of weeks following a year of renovations. Inside it’s like the tardis – bigger inside than it looks – a bar and then a large open-plan restaurant with the kitchen as part of it. So you can pop along and have a chat with chef Jon Parry (formerly of London’s Bull & Last and Adam Byatt’s Trinity)– which I do but not for long as he is up to his eyes in orders.
The staff are passionate about this venture…and service could not be better – even though its fairly busy on a Saturday lunchtime.. As soon as I arrive I am shown the drinks menu which features the local sparkling wine. So I order a glass and sit down outside taking in the view and watching the beautiful Red Kites swirling on the thermals. The sparkling wine is from the nearby Radnage Vineyard and excellent. Later on my afternoon walk I can see the vines from the road.
It’s a beautiful sunny day – the Inn is at the peak of a hill, overlooking undulating valleys, near the Chiltern Ridgeway path. Two local ladies are looking at the menu and engage me in conversation. They tell me the restaurant did not want to cater for locals who wanted a bar menu – but later changed their minds. So I am pleased to note there is a bar snack of baked ham.
The old pub has been refurbished very sympathetically but making it light, spacious and airy. In the middle of the restaurant there is a beautiful huge oak (local wood) communal table (designed by Nick) and if you want a more intimate meal there are individual tables – a total of 32 seats.
The Mash prides itself on growing or sourcing local ingredients even foraging for a lot of them such as the local blackberries which are extremely abundant at this time of year. Everything on the menu is made from scratch including the hand churned butter which arrives on the table with the freshly baked bread.
The dishes are innovative, cooked with the highest quality ingredients available and on the menu during my visit was leek root tempura with hay mayonnaise, dry-aged British rib of beef with oyster and nettles and grilled halibut with Bradenham ham and sweetcorn, all cooked on the hand built wood-fired grill that provides a centrepiece to the open kitchen.
Nick finds the idea of returning the pub to a staging inn style menu appealing – you turn up and get whats on offer i.e. the freshest season foods. “I want folks to be able to come out here, get back to nature, eat nature and get back to a childhood of hiking through fields, living without frills and get a taste of being in working farmland. Pickling, curing, foraging, tending to our kitchen garden and playing with the hand-built wood-fired cooking range is a normal day at the Mash Inn. I am bored of the traditional set up that we are all so used to, seated at little tables and presented with fuss and nonsense – here you can leave your table and stand in the kitchen and watch the flames dance under the food. There are no more doors between customers and kitchens, it’s a fully interactive and honest experience, ”
After lunch it’s still sunny and warm and I go for a walk with a laminated map that Nick gives me. Unfortunately I get lost and walk miles along a country road. There are no village shops, nowt and the two workman I see outside a house are not locals. So there is only one thing for it – keep on walking which I do in a huge circle ending up back in the village. And only one thing to do after this is have a drink at the bar.
I am staying in one of the five en suite bedrooms which is all newly refurbished with freestanding baths, showers, new bedlinen etc from £100 per night. The room is lovely and I sleep very well.
Before I know its tomorrow and time for breakfast. Breakfast is served on a tray and looked lovely…but there was no choice of an English breakfast. I don’t normally eat a cooked breakfast so a small version of this is a treat. That was my only (very small) disappointment!
The Mash Inn is open for lunch and dinner, with an à la carte menu boasting of a selection of sharing starters and mains or a tasting menu of eight dishes available (£45pp),
Only seven miles from Marlow, the dining room at The Mash Inn sits amongst some of the top foodie destinations in the country including Le Manoir Quat’ Saisons, The Fat Duck, Hand & Flowers, making it the ideal base for food lovers to explore. Only 40 minutes away from London, The Mash Inn offers City-escapers a convivial experience – just the laid back break they were craving, promising a food-filled, relaxing weekend or mid-week escape.
The Mash Inn, please visit: www.themashinn.com
The Mash Inn Instagram: @themashinn
Location: Horseshoe Road, Bennett End, Buckinghamshire HP14 4EB
Getting there: Just off the M40, the Mash Inn is around 40 minutes from Central London. The nearest train stations are Saunderton and Princes Risborough, both a 10/15 minute drive
Reservations: Please call 01494 482440 to make a reservation. Online bookings launching end of September: www.themashinn.com
Rooms: Five doubles with en suite bathrooms
Room 1- which is the King with a separate seating area is £130
Room 2- Superking overlooking the garden is £120
Room 3 King overlooking the garden is £110
Room 4 King with shower £100
Dining room: Seats 32 in total with a communal table that seats 14
Lunch: 12.30pm to 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.30pm to 9.30pm
Pricing: Tasting menu – £45
A la carte – is split into small plates and larger dishes –recommend 3-4 starters between two and one large dish each. Small plates £4-£9, larger dishes £19-£25
Mid week – lunch special pricing: £19 for two courses, £23 for three courses