We arrived with the express intention of trying everything of Swiss origin that we could lay our hands on, an objective which ultimately proved incompatible with the capacity of our stomachs, but was great fun anyway. The pub’s menu helpfully labels all the relevant dishes with a Swiss flag, which was very useful; while we would have got the hint on the rostis and fondue, the smoked trout mousse and Italian style dishes might have been overlooked among the more traditional pub beef burger, fish and chips, and curry. Being only human, in the end we ordered the trout mousse and the gruyère tart to start, followed by a cheese fondue, and a meat fondue, with a cheese and bacon rosti as a kind of insane side dish.
The trout mousse, sourced from local Bilbury Trout Farm, is wonderful, and the gruyère tart dainty and delicious. The fondues were good – but more an enjoyable sociable experience than a gastronomic triumph. We were brought two dishes, kept warm at the table with little burners below. One held a tasty but heavy cheese and white wine sauce, with unlimited crisps, bread, pickles and chips for dipping, the other a hot red wine concoction for cooking wafer-thin slivers of raw beef on a long-handled fork. Portions are more than generous. The rosti, which we’d fondly imagined might arrive in the form of a few delicate patties, like little fishcakes, was the diameter and twice the thickness of a fair-sized pizza. It was a little bland, though it would probably have been much better appreciated on an emptier stomach at that point.
The bill, with drinks, came to just over £100, but it should be noted that while there were just the four of us, what we ordered would easily have fed six. It’s true that this isn’t the most exciting food you’ll ever eat in terms of mind-blowing flavour and original concept, but it’s hearty, fun, decent quality, and something just that little bit different. It’s food for building you up after vigorous exercise or too much fresh air, a perfect place for the end of a day spent hiking round the gleaming glaciers and mountain villages of South Oxfordshire, or skiing on Boar’s Hill. Wear yourself out: run ten miles, row (or better still, swim) up from Nuneham Courtney, then, with a clear conscience, dunk your piece of bread in the pot of melted cheese, and eat the enormous rosti.