The Lamb, Little Milton

First published in Eating out Herald Series: Photograph of the Author by

Little Milton is a pretty village standing equidistance between Thame and Wallingford if you travel the A329.

There was a time when this active little village supported five shops and three pubs. The artist John Piper described it as quite a picturesque museum, but that was before extra houses were added and modern traffic began rumbling through. Now it boasts loads of extra homes but just one shop and only one pub, The Lamb, which is situated right on the edge of the road.

Indeed, the road is so perilously close to the pub that the front door has been blocked off. For safety reasons visitors are asked to enter through the back door. The pub's close proximity to the road certainly wouldn't have mattered when this 17th-century thatched pub was first built out of stone quarried locally. The horse and carts and flocks of Down Cotswold sheep that would have meandered through the village then certainly wouldn't have been a hazard, whereas the cars that now travel the route pass perilously close to The Lamb and often appear to exceed the speed limit.

We parked our car at the rear of the pub and picked our way past the outside toilets to the entrance door in the far corner which we only spotted when we had passed, and tried to enter, every other door.

There's something rather disturbing about entering a pub which is empty, as this was, especially when it has several centuries of history embedded in its walls. However the welcome we received from the licensee was warm and friendly and the food was good.

The interior consists of three inter-connecting rooms, with the dining area to the right, though food is served throughout. Exposed stone walls, terracotta floor tiles and an imitation wood-burning fire that appears to be fuelled by gas, sets the tone.

All it needed to turn it into a perfect village pub on the day we called was extra customers. However, I was assured that at the weekends, particularly Sundays, it's buzzing with life, as their Sunday roasts are very popular.

Well-behaved dogs on leads are allowed into the bar area but wheelchair users will find this pub very difficult. Although the toilets are outside, pending planning permission to demolish the toilet block and build a single-storey extension to house them properly, wheelchair access would prove difficult. Inside the changing floor levels would exacerbate the problem.

Adnam's Bitter and Old Hooky were on tap, but my colleague Chris and I enjoyed a glass of house red.

One of the specials of the day was fresh Shetland mussels at £6 as a starter portion and £12 as a main course - as they are one of Chris's favourite foods he ordered them as a main course. They came cooked in a little white wine, cream and garlic. He soon decided they were simply delicious and conversation ceased for a few moments as he savoured their flavour. I had the fresh haddock, cooked in beer batter, (£10.50) which I was assured had been delivered that morning. It certainly tasted fresh.

Other items on the lunch menu the day we called included: chicken breast schnitzel (£9.50), American-style burger (£8), traditional steak and ale pie (£11.50) and home-cooked ham, eggs and chips at £9.50. Soup is £5.50, and several salads, such as prawn avocado or classic Greek salad, at £9.50 are also available, also sandwiches all priced at £5.75.

It was while we sat at a table overlooking the road that we appreciated just why villagers protested about the traffic conditions in 2002. Their protests may have gone some way to securing funding for traffic-calming measures on the A329, however, we both felt more still needs to be done.

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