Hornton Stone is a sedimentary rock formed in the Jurassic period approximately 160 million years ago. It is made up of a blue/grey limestone or calcium carbonate, however the stone has some iron ore content. This oxidises with the stone creating a brown/orange colour.Horton stone was quarried by Hornton Quarries Ltd, latterly known as, ‘Hornton Masonry Company Ltd.’ They had two quarries; one at the village of Edge HIll of brown Hornton stone, suitable for chopped walling, which is now exhausted. They also owned a quarry towards the village of Hornton that was quarried for ‘blue’ Hornton stone.’Blue’ Hornton stone was used for Architectural and monumental masonry and was also suitable for paving. ‘Brown’ Horton stone was quarried in the Cotswold area and was traditionally known as ‘Cotswold Stone.’
After skipping breakfast, braving lowering clouds, unrelenting wintry gusts etc my hope and expectation was for a cosy fire and something delicious and filling. The Dun Cow website had looked promising: unpretentious home cooking, locally sourced and menu that changes monthly.
We settled into a table by a casement window and the welcoming fire. So far the vibes had been good- no horrible music, no braying gentry, just a gentle hum of conversation which the British manage very well, but which eludes other nationalities.
We decided to share a starter dish of pakoras. “This’ll be a real test”, I warned Adrian the owner. “We’re Indian.” In India in fact we do pakoras mainly for tea-time snacks. The perfect pakora is crisp, but not over-fried, and light; slices of onion, potato, spinach leaves dipped in a golden batter of chickpea flour, water and lightly spiced accompanied with ketchup or mint chutney. Lisa’s were pretty good, just a tiny bit too salty and the coriander chutney was fine.
Pippa ordered fish pie and I had vegetable tagine and couscous. Both helpings were huge. Pippa’s pie was lovely and creamy with lots of fish and prawns, full of taste. My dish was just what I’d craved. We followed with apple and calvados ice-cream, an excellent foil to our filling mains. The Bordeaux by the glass was good and the coffee plentiful. The bill came to £52 for two including non-alcoholic aperitifs .
Here is Adrian and Lisa’s philosophy from their own website:
Local beers are always represented through brewers such as Hook Norton, XT, Purity and The Cats Brewing Co, all of which are within a short drive of The Dun Cow.
We’re just as committed to wine as we are to beer and we have carefully chosen a short, unpretentious, great value wine list. Most of them are available by the glass and have been chosen to compliment our menus as well as being great to drink on their own.
When it comes to food, we have a very straightforward approach to what eating in pubs should be about.
Firstly, we believe that the food should be simple. We have no “fine dining” aspirations; we believe that pub food should be about great value, big flavours and we wear our rough edges with pride.
Our menus are deliberately short, based on a few, well cooked, simple dishes (British classics along with Mediterranean and Asian favourites, too). They are made from the best ingredients we can find and prepared with passion and pride in our own kitchen.
Second, pub food should be local. We have fantastic farmers & growers in our corner of Oxfordshire, let’s support them. The vast majority of our food is sourced from within 30 miles of Hornton and our beef, lamb and pork are all bought directly from the farmers that raised them.
Finally, we believe that food should be seasonal. Our menus may be short but they will completely change every month (new menus launch on the first Friday of every month) to reflect all that’s fresh and at its best, right now.
Also, we’re not just there for three course lunches and dinners. Our bar menu offers great value snacks and light meals, too.
So, we’ll not win Michelin Stars but will be offering superb beers, wines & food. Please join us.
It is true, every word.
And here is the great Henry Moore’s Madonna in Northampton Parish Church sculpted in golden Hornton stone.