The Pot Kiln | Frilsham (UK)

We were really enjoying this gamey lunch up to the mains.
But we skipped dessert because of the attitude of the waiting staff!

The Pot Kiln is a Berkshire countryside pub, set in Yattendon Estate’s nine thousand acres of woods and farmland, which they basically regard as their wild food larder of game and seasonal foraging. No surprise they specialise in game and wild food. This is Middleton Country. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge was raised in little Bucklebury, three miles south of Frilsham, the village where The Pot Kiln is based.

Katie Robinson is founding partner of The Pot Kiln since 2005, when she took over this this 300 year old pub together with her then husband Chef Michael Robinson (also co-owner of Harwood Arms *). After their divorce, Katie continued to run the pub with business partner Rocky Rockliff from 2015 until now. The new business partner and Chef Patron is four-times Michelin-star chef Daniel Galmiche. Although I’m not sure when he will officially start in the kitchen. Nothing on the website yet.
Big plans for The Pot Kiln as constructions are going on at the moment to extend the pub’s kitchen and dining room and build ten guest rooms.

Celebrity chef Daniel Galmiche, whose regular TV appearances include BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, worked in Michelin star kitchens for over 20 years, like Le Gavroche and The Vineyard. He achieved and maintained a Michelin star in four restaurants in his career: Knockinaam Lodge, Harvey’s, L’Ortolan and Cliveden House.

The Pot Kiln is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, except Sunday dinner. The menu offers 7 Starters (at £5.95-£10), 6 Mains (at £14.95-£22.50), 2 meat sharing plates (£48-£55), 7 Sides (at £3.50), 5 Desserts (at £2-£7.50) and a Cheeseboard (at £12). Besides the menu, they have a Sunday Roast for Two (at £48) and the daily specials board offered an extra starter and main.

We went for lunch last Saturday.

Venison and Pork Scotch Egg
Venison and Pork Scotch Egg (£5.95)

A runny egg surrounded by beautifully seasoned venison and pork mince. The crust wasn’t crunchy (should have been fried a bit longer), but a very flavoursome bite. Loved the celeriac remoulade underneath, with mustard mayonnaise. Very nice.

Pigeon Breast Salad
Pigeon Breast Salad (£10)

Crisp frisée salad with two slices of pigeon breast. Unfortunately one of the slices was a bit overdone, so tasted a bit like liver. But the other slice was nice. Crispy bacon and fried black pudding cubes combined very well with the pigeon. Don’t get the balsamic reduction on there, which doesn’t work flavour wise. Nice dish, but needs a bit more, well cooked, pigeon breast.

Venison Mulligatawny Soup
Venison Mulligatawny Soup (£8)

A well-filled soup with venison mince, onion, rice and a lovely blend of Indian curry spices. Some sourdough and salted butter on the side. Would prefer the venison a bit more chunky, so it’s more recognisable as venison. But a very taste bowl of comfort!

Venison Pavé Steak
Venison Pavé Steak (£22.50)

Tender venison steak cooked well. Creamy greens. Crispy kale on top was extra nice. Peppercorn & red win gravy was a bit on the salty side. A smooth buttered potato mash, some fried onion rings on the side. This dish totally meets my expectations of what we would find here. Very good.

Triple Cooked Chips
Triple Cooked Chips (£3.50)

And of course we needed to check out the triple cooked chips. These were okay, but could have been crispier. More like double cooked they were.

Braised Pheasant Breast "Au Vin"
Braised Pheasant Breast “Au Vin” (£19)

Pheasant breast on potato mash, with mushrooms, caramelised onions and pancetta lardons, with a red wine gravy. Unfortunately the pheasant was very overcooked and bone dry. This was a real shame, as the rest on the plate was lovely.

The waiting staff didn’t check if everything was okay during the mains, although they did with the starters. Probably busy elsewhere, they only came to the table when we had already finished, leaving nearly all the pheasant on the plate. When we explained that the pheasant was overcooked and dry, the waitress didn’t apologise or anything and actually tried to argue that it was down to taste. Which of course is a nonsense.

After that, the dessert menu was given and no remark was made about the pigeon. This all left a disappointing feeling and we literally had enough. We skipped dessert and kindly asked for the bill. The bill came, including the pheasant dish and 12.5% service charge.
When asked to take the optional service charge off the bill and also asked if there was any feedback on the pheasant dish, the waitress just said yes and left. Restaurant manager Adam Molnar appeared and asked if anything was wrong!…. He tried to argue that he had informed if everything was okay during the mains, which was absolutely not true. Anyway, the service charge and pheasant dish were deducted from the bill. But still no apologies and he said he would inform the chef. So apparently this wasn’t done before?

We were really enjoying this gamey lunch up to the mains, but this was completely overshadowed by the attitude of the waiting staff and how they handled things. A real shame and this kitchen really doesn’t deserve this. It just shows how important both the kitchen and front of house are to be successful, especially when things go wrong.