The Boot: needs polishing?

The Boot: Chinnor Road, High Wycombe, Bucks, HP14 4AW

Nestled on the hillside of the Chilterns in the quiet village of Bledlow Ridge, The Boot is new for 2013 and already a popular pub with the locals as well as a modern eating house. Inside, cow skins and wine-glass chandeliers build a warm and rustic atmosphere, kept up-to-date with chic chairs and chunky wooden tables. The bar stretches across the room, allowing drinkers to dwell with the diners in the high-ceilinged dining room that enables excellent acoustics.

Unfortunately the cosy environment wasn’t reciprocated in the welcome. Three staff managed to ignore us waiting in front of them and even the owner walked past without uttering more than “Hi.” Finally we were pointed, not shown, over to our table where another waitress then proceeded to ask if a fourth person would be joining us, even though the table had been booked and laid for three.

We got stuck into the menu, an array of classic pub dishes and some more refined meals too. The starters took a long time to arrive so we asked for some bread – thick chunks of granary served with soft butter – and it turned out to be excellent. Garlic Wild Mushrooms on Toasted Brioche tasted nothing of garlic but included a tasty selection of meaty and earthy mushrooms on a slice of brioche. Scallops with black pudding and bacon were rather small and overcooked, even burnt, served on a bed of salad. As we were eating, we noticed we had also not been given the specials menu or offered a drinks menu or wine list. At least the food was so far consistent with the service…

Mains average around £15 and are served on fashionable wooden boards. The Boot Burger is made from local fillet and sirloin though looks minute in the vast (and cheap) seeded bap it’s served on. For not many more pennies a homemade bread roll would have made a much better impact. The burger itself was OK, perhaps not worthy of bearing the pub’s name on its shoulders. The hand-cut chips were fat, fluffy and crunchy though. Posh chicken and chips was tender and generous though overpowered by the overly rich jus and the apricot and sage stuffing came in an unappetising slice as opposed to in the chicken. Chips, again, perfect.

Puddings varied: a crème brulee with chocolate shortbread was grainy, the “shortbread” powdery and dry while a lemon tart tested the meaning of the phrase “subtle flavouring” though the accompanying mixed berry compote was fine. A sticky toffee pudding was more successful and worth the £5 but the sponge was too dry and the ice cream tasted cheap – thin and sugary.

The food here isn’t bad but some little improvements could really make a big difference. However, it’s fairly good value and a quiet, peaceful atmosphere in which to eat. Service needs brushing up on, especially the welcome and goodbye, and there was little coherency between our serving staff. Not one to rush back to but management attention could pay some big dividends.

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