Opened seven years ago already, the King John Inn in picturesque Tollard Royal is well worth a detour. Open for food 7 days a week, the pub still offers a fine selection of draft beers for the beer drinkers amongst you. The decor is a mixture of modern and traditional, with a stunning new pale oak bar and a quarry tile floor of reclaimed red tiles. Lovely selection of framed country photographs on the walls. Mixed scrubbed oak tables. Immaculate loos. It all works really well and has been done with excellent taste.
We arrived just after noon and were the first there. A relaxed but good welcome set the tone and we were shown to a nice table by the crackling open log fire.
The menu when we visited for lunch was quite small but full of interest. Hot out of the oven bread (The King John Bloomer) was crusty and delicious. For starters we chose Moules Marinières; and lightly dressed Portland crab on sourdough toast. Mains were a pigeon breast salad with crispy bacon and croutons; and pan-fried Gurnard with crushed potatoes and curly kale. There was a good selection of puds from which we shared a chocolate and orange fondant. The food was all well prepared and nicely presented, without being too “fussy”.
Service by our friendly waitress Bronte, was very good and well informed.
A three course meal will set you back £30 to £35, excluding drinks.
This has to be one of the most delicious pasta dishes, made using four classic Italian ingredients: Pasta, Parma Ham, dried wild mushrooms and Parmesan Reggiano. You can eat this either as a starter or as a main course. It is very rich, so if you use it as a starter, you only need a smallish ramekin per person.
Ingredients for 8 as a starter or 4 as a main course.
8 sheets of Lasagne Pasta
60 grams plain flour;
150 grams butter
1 litre milk
450 grams fresh or dried wild mushrooms
150 grams freshly grated Parmesan
200 grams Parma Ham, sliced into juliennes
a good handful of freshly chopped Parsley
Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper
Pre-heat your oven to 425 F/220C/Gas 7
Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan.
Add the flour and blend, stirring all the time. Cook for a couple of minutes to cook the flour, still stirring. Remove from the heat.
Bring the milk to near boiling. Place the butter and flour mixture back on a very gentle heat and add the milk a little at a time stirring constantly with a whisk. This will only take a couple of minutes.
Remove from the heat and set to one side.
If you are using fresh wild mushrooms, slice them into chunks and fry gently in olive oil. If you are using dried, soak them well in cold water, drain them and add to the béchamel.
Cut the Parma Ham into juliennes and add them too.
Sprinkle in the chopped Parsley and season with salt and pepper. Don’t add too much salt as the Parma Ham and the Parmesan both have a certain amount of salt in them.
Bring the mixture to the boil and remove from the heat. Butter your dish or dishes, depending on whether you are using 8 ramekins or one dish.
Place a layer of soaked (or “no pre-soak”) pasta on the bottom, cover with the mixture and generously sprinkle with Parmesan. Repeat this until your dish is full.
Place a knob of butter on top of a ramekin dish or several knobs on top of a single dish.
Place in oven and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbling and golden.
Just before bringing it to the table, you can drizzle a little Truffle oil over the top for an extra subtle and delicious flavour.