The George and Dragon Hotel and Restaurant is nestled in the heart of the National Trust village of West Wycombe. It’s easily reached from central London and is an Instagrammer’s dream. This is a quaint 17th century coaching inn and has a prominent place on this picturesque high street.
This charming and cottagey restaurant has award-winning Head Chef Arnaud Stevens at the helm. He already is the owner and chef-director of Plate in Shoreditch, and was previously executive chef at 30 St Mary Axe, also known as the Gherkin.
The restaurant at the George and Dragon takes advantage of the best quality local and seasonal ingredients, and presents somewhat familiar dishes but with a dash of polish and a high-end twist. The kitchen also has access to the bounty of one of the UK’s best-regarded shooting estates, and all the fish on the menu is sustainably caught.
The unassuming dining room almost belies the standard of dishes on this bill of fare. No, it’s not the longest menu in the Home Counties but the restaurant is small so it works perfectly. Each plate is well crafted and displays not only culinary skill but also imagination.
Cabernet vinegar marinated beetroot, and goats’ curd with candied pecan crumble was my starter. Granted, that root vegetable doesn’t have a huge fan-base, so it was interesting to see what Chef Arnaud was going to do with that oft-flabby and periodically pickled veggie. It was quite a little stunner and that’s a word not often found in the same sentence as beetroot! The texture was the surprise. It had a pleasant crunch but with no hint of over-chewy raw root. A wonderful composition and a vegetarian must-try at the George and Dragon.
Battered prawns with chilli sauce is new to the menu here and it was as good a version as one could find in any restaurant. Prawn lovers will also appreciate the prawn cocktail which has been updated and refined but still retains all the elements which made this classic so popular.
Oxfordshire lamb rump and crispy shoulder with onion tart and ewes’ curd was my companion’s main course. He is a lover of any sheep-based meal and pronounced this dish to be first class. It once again showed Chef Arnaud’s respect for great meat and his understanding of ingredient partnership and balance. A refined plate which tasted as good as it looked.
The George and Dragon restaurant is associated with the pub and so there should be some classic gastropub items on the menu, too. My main course was Fish and Chips with Rebellion Ale batter, crushed peas, chunky chips, tartare and G&D curry sauce. OK, so the untutored might be disappointed to find such a common plate listed beside some more intriguing options, but don’t overlook this one. Yes, it is undoubtedly a familiar dish, but this Chef tweaks each element and elevates the whole but without intimidating or disappointing the diner. The fish was perfectly steamed in its crunchy batter. The peas still had appropriate bite and were deliciously comforting. The chips were for which to die and the curry sauce would delight even those who might usually insist on that traditional chippy gloop. This platter was a hearty winner!
Crispy doughnuts with crème pâtissier brought smiles to our drooling lips. These crusty nuggets had light and cakey interiors which were hot and tempting; the sauce was a perfect accompaniment. This dessert was a finale to a memorable meal and a truly pleasurable experience.
George and Dragon Hotel and Restaurant
Phone: 01494 535340