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Restaurant Review: The Fleece, Witney

The Fleece, situated overlooking the church green in Witney is a picturesque spot for al fresco dining. This was our first review in our hometown and on a very balmy Thursday evening, we rolled up excited by what was in store for us.

The tables outside were beautifully laid and inviting. Angus, the manager looked after us from the moment we sat down to the moment we left. Upon arrival he offered a glass of prosecco or an Aperol spritz, we opted for a glass of chilled prosecco whilst he walked us through the specials board, where 25% of all orders go to the Burnt Kitchen, a mental health charity for the hospitality industry. The Fleece is a member of the sustainable restaurant association and on the back of their menu proudly publish where they source their ingredients.

The Fleece can cater for any appetite, they have nine small deli plates as well as a host of your normal starters and specials. The deli plates caught our eye so we decided to try the Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Caesar Sauce (5.75) and the Halloumi Fries with Bloody Mary Ketchup (V) (5.50). We couldn’t resist adding the starter special which was Salt and pepper squid with Aioli (9.00).

The dishes all arrived hot and well presented, the salt and pepper squid arrived with grilled lime. The squid was some of the crispiest we’ve ever tasted, dry but perfectly seasoned with a hit of black pepper and delicious aioli to dunk it in - this really was something quite special. The Halloumi fries were chunky and not at all greasy but the best part of this dish was the ketchup. So often Halloumi is served with sweet chilli, so our taste buds loved the new flavour sensation with this Bloody Mary ketchup - it had a real hit. Our least favourite starter was the fried chicken, it tasted like it had been coated in a smokey rub of sorts but didn’t leave a great after-taste, it was really well cooked but the caesar sauce was underwhelming - this was the only dish we didn’t finish and wouldn’t order again.

For mains, Rachel decided to order the last Maple cured pork ribeye, sauteed potatoes, green beans and pineapple salsa (16.50), it had been a very popular dish that evening. The ribeye was lean, juicy and tender and the sweetness from the maple was definitely apparent. The salsa looked really impressive but was slightly overshadowed by the pork flavour. However, overall this dish was still really enjoyable.

Holly ordered the Miso-glazed Cod, Black Rice, Choy Sum, Lime, Chilli & Coriander (19.50). The plating of this dish was amazing and the smells just pulled you in. The first taste was an instant hit, within minutes Holly was making bold claims about this being the best meal she’s eaten this year. The oriental flavours were there in full force, loads of citrus, the perfect amount of chilli and herbs and the cod was perfectly cooked. It really was a delight to eat and we would both come back just to have this dish again.

We both ordered a Virgin Apple Mojito (4) which is a really refreshing tall drink that lasted us the course of the meal and came with lots of ice and fresh mint. Perfect for this glorious weather.

For pudding, we both had a chocolate craving and thankfully the Fleece delivered. Holly went for another dish off the specials board, Amarena cherry and chocolate brownie with ice cream and cherry syrup (7.50) and Rachel went for a classic, Warm Chocolate Fondant, Creme Fraîche & Pistachio Crumb (V) (8.00)

The brownie was perfectly crispy on top and gooey in the middle with whole cherries oozing with flavour. The ice cream was high quality and complemented the richness of the brownie perfectly. What a way to round off a fantastic three-course meal!

Rachel’s fondant arrived and upon cutting into it, we knew she was in for a treat. Just as you’d hope on putting your spoon in, the fondant oozed chocolate goodness. The only thing we weren’t sure about here is that it was served on a dark chocolate sauce which overpowered the milk chocolate fondant. This did give another layer of flavour but was perhaps a little too sharp against the delicate flavour of the main attraction.

For the evening, it felt like we had been transported abroad to a holiday destination,it was really memorable, the food was great, the service amazing and all whilst watching the sunset. It made this a really romantic night and reminded us of why we decided to make Witney our home.

They were advertising a few themed nights, including a vegan night on the 14th of July, they also do fabulous picnic boxes and blankets to extend your meal onto the green. You can even order drinks via a QR code and they’ll come to you.

In a nutshell: Gastropub food that doesn’t disappoint and well worth the ££. We had a really wonderful evening and would return in a heartbeat. We’re now fully certified Peach Pub fans.

Holly & Rachel

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