Thu, 23 Aug 2018
The times they are a changin’ – and so are we’ – so stated The Dundas Arms’ website before we visited.
We were there on day three since they closed for a few weeks to refurbish – so it was a bit of a test. Would we be singing its praises, Bob Dylan-like, as we left?
Well, the interior looks fresh – the walls in the restaurant are hunting green on top and a lighter myrtle green below.
There’s a whole new entrance, all glass and chic and welcoming. The staff are on top of their game and the locals were packed in on a rainy Friday evening, creating a great atmosphere.
The restaurant was busy too and we were glad we’d booked an early table by the window.
The menu is varied – there’s a nibbles section (sticky chicken wings, olives, fish croquettes with aioli, focaccia), the usual starters, mains and sides. But there’s also a pub section with dishes like the Dundas short crust ‘proper’ lamb pie with mash and spring greens, Ramsbury-ale battered haddock and the Dundas burger.
There’s a salad choice too – grilled lemon and thyme chicken with potatoes, artichokes, endive, crispy bacon and Parmesan and a melon and feta salad.
So there’s plenty to choose from. We had some mixed olives and just as we finished demolishing them our starters arrived. Service was good and all evening-long, which, considering how full it was, was no mean feat.
Charlie’s chalk stream smoked trout on toast with shaved fennel, watercress and capers (£8.50) was Tracey’s choice and as pretty as a picture (below).
The soft trout was under a large drape of smoked salmon and the chopped fennel tasted slightly pickled. The portion was generous and she liked it a lot.
My Garganelli (like penne but with ridges) pasta (£8.75) came in a creamy crab bisque with spinach and dots of white crab meat on top. The bisque was strong and was, I think, loaded with brown crab-meat. I loved it, but you will need to be a crab lover to enjoy.
For mains we had another fish dish (£16.50) – grilled hake fillet with clams, samphire and fregola pasta (pea-sized balls). The hake was cooked well, though it was a wee bit salty, and the crunchy samphire and green beans were the right side of crunchy. The clams were big and fabulous said Tracey.
I went for the confit duck leg on cannellini beans with buttered cavolo nero (£17) (below). The beans were delicious, soft and floating in a duck flavoured jus – I could have eaten a bowl of them on their own. The duck was soft and yielding too.
We ordered the Parmesan chips on the side – though we could have chosen buttered greens, braised fennel, triple-cooked chips, buttered new potatoes or, interestingly, fattoush salad. I love fattoush salad, but was not sure it went with my main so that is for next time.
The dessert menu has dessert wine recommendations on it, which I always like to see. We plumped for a roasted pineapple, blood orange sorbet and meringue (£7.50) – the sorbet was the star said Tracey, juicy and sharp (below).
I had a treacle and ginger tart with clotted cream (£7) – it came cold, which can mute the treacle flavour, but not in this case, though the ginger was just a hint.
We could have had, among others, the Dundas chocolate and coconut brownie sundae, which sounded magnificent and, of course there’s a cheeseboard with local cheeses and Jude’s ice creams and sorbets.
We left our table and went for a drink in the bar and were soon chatting with the friendly locals. They are delighted the place is open again.
And yes, we were singing as we left – not Dylan I don’t think, but a merry little tune to suit this merry reincarnation.
The Dundas Arms, 53 Station Rd,
Kintbury, RG17 9UT.
Monday to Friday: 12noon – 2.30pm & 6pm – 9.30pm (10pm Friday)
Saturday: 12noon – 3pm & 6pm – 10pm
Sunday: 12noon – 9pm