The Bailiwick Free House, Englefield Green – a country pub on the border of Windsor Great Park
A roaring fire in winter, a welcome for dogs, excellent walking nearby and a tempting menu. If this sounds like your perfect pub for Saturday or Sunday lunch then you’d better book a visit to the Bailiwick. It’s the classic country pub but rather than being in the depths of Somerset or Devon it’s just alongside the woodlands of Windsor Great Park, with gate access. So if you fancy a trip out from West London or you live nearby then it should definitely be on your visit list.
Game and local produce
The Bailiwick is under the culinary eye of Stephen Ellis, who previously headed up The Oxford Blue in Old Windsor and trained at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.
His love of game and local produce is immediately evident when you look at the menu.
When I got there, a few walkers were happily snacking on the pub’s popular venison bon bons over a pint, with contented dogs snoozing at their feet. Waiting staff clad in tweed waistcoats were taking orders for the popular roast lunch (a choice of roast lamb, rib of beef or roast pork rack). Book a table for a Sunday after a walk around the Great Park and you’re all set for the afternoon.
As I was investigating the Bailiwick’s game offering, we decided to go large and head for the tasting menu.
We started off with a red deer tartare, accompanied by brioche and a smokey mayonnaise. Other dishes of note were the game bird ‘nest’, a ravioli created from a braised haunch of venison, a game bird broth and a quince and ginger sorbet. Just make sure you are hungry before embarking on this gastonomic journey, the tasting menu is memorable but it is filling. Definitely one for after a walk, not before.
Rather than ordering a bottle of wine, we asked the waiter to suggest wines by the glass to go with the courses. This was an excellent plan and the local Windsor Great Park sparkling wine made a worthy aperitif.
You can also eat à la carte, choosing from dishes such as roasted loin of venison from Windsor Great Park red deer, Isle of Gigha halibut or an aubergine ‘steak’ for the vegetarians in your party.
It’s hard to fault the Bailiwick. The food is good, it has an unpretentious and welcoming atmosphere, the prices are reasonable and your dog is welcome. Somebody has paid a lot of attention to detail too. The china on which dishes are served features gamebirds and the staff wear their tweeds with a dash. They know the provenance of the food they are serving inside out. There is a large room at the back which is available for private hire – a great place to host a significant birthday I thought, when you don’t want the occasion to be too formal, but more of a drop in situation.
I also liked the selection of art on the walls, done by a local artist who caught the atmosphere of Windsor Great Park skilfully.
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If you’re a pudding lover then you’ll be well served because Stephen’s wife is the pastry chef and there are plenty of sweet delights to tempt. There is also a selection of English cheeses if you have a more savoury tooth.
Definitely a pub for foodies and dog owners. You’ll need to book ahead at weekends but if you live locally this is just the sort of place to drop in on a weekday evening, either for a spot of supper or to meet with a friend over a pint and the venison bon bons.
À la carte menu and Sunday lunch: Two courses £35
Tasting menu: £70 per person