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Chequers, Burcot

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user reviews of the Chequers, Burcot

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

As a group of 8 ladies staying at a holiday cottage nearby we took advantage of a pub so close and had lunch and dinner at The Chequers. We were really well looked after, the staff were charming, helpful and efficient, and the food (and beer) was excellent. It was also clean and comfortable and had a lovely log fire. Highly recommended.
sylviajoan - 9 Mar 2015 15:57
After driving past the "best fish and chips in the world" sign a few times, I couldn't resist it any longer. Rash claim, I thought; I know a thing or two about fish and chips. And so I told the staff they were in for a test. Smiles all round. Lovely beer. And then to the fish and chips; all I can say is, I've never had better. Thick cod fillet cooked to perfection in divinely crispy batter. A little tower of chips - not quite what I expected, but each one crunched as I bit it. Beautiful. I haven't eaten in every fish and chipper in the world, so I can't say for sure that the claim is true. But I've eaten in a lot, I'm very fussy, and I couldn't fault it. Lovely experience. I've recommended it to a number of friends who have all agreed with me. I'll be back again.
joe_the_schmoe - 23 May 2011 16:30
Dear all,

I would like to respond for the last time to Mr.
I am including one of many emails we sent him and his partner in regards to his bad experience at The Chequers, alas we still have never had a reply from him.

"I have tried to contact you previously but still with no success.
We have taken your complaint very seriously, and have investigated the matter fully. As some of the issues you have raised are totally unforgivable and have not been tolerated, to the extent that the two young girls working that night are no longer employees.
I would really like to talk to you personally about the complaints and issues you had on the 20th October 2010 and to offer my apologies about your terrible experience. I would like to invite you back to The Chequers to hopefully change your opinion, and to show you that the service you received on your last visit does not reflect my restaurant.

Look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely yours,
Steven Sanderson
01865 407771"

As any one who runs a business knows; staff are the hardest part of a business and give every employer thousands upon thousands of headaches. My business is no different. The two girls who served the couple on that particular evening were dismissed the next day for stealing. A bad call on my behalf to employ them, but my mistake was quickly corrected.

I have set very high standards for my staff for the past five years and will continue to do so for the future. We please nearly all of our customers but as anybody in the service industry knows, it is impossible to please everyone.
The chequers has continued to grow year on year since I have been here, and our restaurant is now better than ever and is highly critically acclaimed within the gastro pub industry. Anybody who has been here more recently would agree.

Jck - 10 May 2011 19:11
My partner and I went for dinner at the Chequers in Burcot last Wednesday and it was a real disappointment. We are both in our late twenties, we both used to work in restaurants (so we know how service should be) and we both enjoy good food.
We started going to this place years ago, when slovakian people (Maja and Milan) were working there and the owners were proud of the place and taking care of it but it has been in free fall for the last few years: tonight was the first time after already a bad experience a year ago and it is no better.
It started as we arrived: the two young waitresses were more interested in chatting with the boys at the bar than taking care of us (it is one of the boys who eventually told them to take care of us and apologised for that!). We ordered a bottle of wine to start drinking next to the fire place and when they brought it, they just left it there: didn't serve it nor asked if I wanted to taste it. When I ordered my pork belly, she asked me how I wanted it cooked: I don't think you should/could have this meat rare or medium. When we were asked to go to our table, we had to carry our glasses and bottle ourself (not that I can not do it but in a nice place, the waiter would do that for you! At least I had to do it when I was working in a restaurant).
At the table, they left another set of wine glasses on the table although we already had our own glasses (I asked them to remove them when they brought the main course because they were really big balls and took a lot of space on the table). Talking about giving them advise, they put 2 tables together for other diners and incredibly had not realised that there were 2 different types of wine glasses: not really nice so I told them to change that for the coming clients. Talking about wine glasses, it is surprising to see in total 3 different types of wine glasses in a place so nicely decorated. It spoils all the nice touches (and it is not like there are 100 seats!).
Finally, when they cleared the table after our main courses, they left my bread plate, the small plate with butter and the pot of ketchup: not something you want to look at while having your pudding. Even if it is just in your mind, salt and sugar don't really mix well together.
Although we did fancy a desert, the whole experience prevented us from ordering any (and they waited ages between the moment they gave us the menus and the moment they came to take the desert order; and the menu she gave to my partner was the wine menu, although if it was written 'wine menu' all over it!). Another point just sprang to my mind: the waitresses playing with the music while we were sitting next to the fire place and having a glass of wine, trying to relax. They were putting modern rock and skipping songs half way through: really not what you want when you want to relax after a hard day of work.
Now the food. My partner had liver pate as a starter and it was nice (difficult to make a mistake with that). I had the stilton and pear tart. It was ok but it would have been much nicer if the pear compote had been (slightly) warm and not freezing cold. It was so cold that it was ruining all the flavours from the cheese and the pastry. Disappointing mistake for such a 'famous' chef.
The mains were 'the famous chequers burger' for my partner and as said previously, the pork belly for me. My dish was nice, nothing to complain about but it was not the case for my partner's burger: the bread was cold (from fridge or freezer) and the meat itself was not really warm either... I really can't see why this burger is any better than any other decent burger... how hard is it to put the burger breads in the oven or the toaster to simply get it nice and crispy?

In conclusion, this is an expensive disappointing experience (this is not a cheap place!). We wanted to give it another chance after that previous one but now, we won't be returning, for sure! The owners of this restaurant really need to be more present and check what their young inexperienced staff are doing (you don't leave 3 young people aged 18-20 responsible of a restaurant).
You can say we are picky. I agree that the things that happened are just small things and that one or 2 would not have been at problem at all, everybody can make mistakes, but all together... no! I do not accept that for the price I am paying! As I said, this is not a cheap place! The place is trying to show high standards (and the place looks really nice, no discussion about that!) but the quality of the service and the food is not following.
As a side note, I first sent this review directly to the owner first, to give them a chance to explain themselves but I haven't had any reply... it really shows that they don't care... they are basing their business on their past reputation but I guess it won't last for long.

pex - 24 Oct 2010 15:29
Visited this pub recently, I was intrigued by the sign out side saying "best fish & chips in the world" so just had to go in and try.............but what a disappointment...... To start with the service was very slow, it wasnt as if it was busy, apart from my partner & I, there was another table of four people. When the meal eventually arrived, it did look nice, presented on a plate covered in newspaper with greaseproof paper on top of that, which I thought was a lovely touch in eating fish and chips the traditional way. We was disappointed however in the 'chips' they were more potato wedges!!! not at all traditional, the batter on the fish was nice and crispy, although too much of it, my partner had very little fish inside his batter and left the majority of it. So to sum up... The best fish and chips in the world I dont think so, i wouldnt even go as far as saying 'in Oxfordshire' as i have tasted better in a Fish n Chip shop in Abingdon for half the price.
Annie06 - 2 Feb 2010 16:51
Visited recently for Sunday lunch and have to say was very impressed with what I found. Was one of best Sunday lunches i've had for quite some time.

I must have visited the Chequers at least once every 18 months for the past 5 years, and every time it is under different management. Sometimes the food is excellent, other times it's indifferent, but i'm pleased to say the current owners are doing a sterling job.

Me and my party of 3 others started with a round of drinks whilst sitting in front of the enormous open fire place. This is the best feature of the pub interior, especially combined with the 3 leather sofas that surround it. I had a gin and tonic made with Hendricks gin (a rare sight in a country pub) and noticed that the bar girl garnished it with a couple of slithers of cucumber rather than lemon or lime which was a nice touch and made a change from the standard Gordons, Schweppes and lemon slice combo you get in most places. My friends had Stowford Press cider and J20's (but beware as the G&T with the cider was 8.50 alone!).
I accompanied my drink with some truly excellent pork scratchings which a waitress informed me were made by the restaurant's butcher. You could really taste the difference as they were distinctly less salty than the mass-produced stuff in most pubs and had had a slightly chewy quality in keeping with real crackling.

The menu itself was fairly short and presented neatly on A4 paper and was based around 3 courses (14 for 2 courses and 17.50 for 3). This format I thought works well for Sunday lunch but may have put anyone not looking for a roast at a disadvantage as the only other mains were a vegetarian lasagne and fish and chips. I don't know what format they operate the rest of the week but I wasn't complaining at these very reasonable prices.
I started with a warm duck salad which if anything was the low-point of the meal. Whilst the duck was good and the mixture of leaves varied, the sauce that accompanied it was rather dull and lacked depth or punch. I was hoping for a variation on hoi-sin but it tasted more tomato-y which was disappointing. One of my friends had the chicken pate which was very smooth and rather run of the mill. Not unlike a supermarket offering.
Then came the main courses and most definitely the stars of the show. I went for the Pork roast and was glad I did! The plate came with 4 generous cuts of pork already covered in gravy (perhaps not to everyone's preference) and several excellent roast potatoes. There was an accompanying dish of carrots, brocolli, mashed swede,etc and a small bowl of thick, chunky apple sauce. It was truly excellent and generously served. I was a bit miffed with my slightly stingy portion of crackling but soon forgot about that as my mind and taste buds were quickly drawn to the superb roasties which had clearly been cooked in animal fat as they had that unmistakable meaty, savoury taste and were crispy and golden with a slightly chewy base. Fantastic. The pork was of seemingly good quality as well and the gravy thick enough to cling to the food around it.
My friends had pork again and beef which also looked very good.
For pudd (what a glutton I am!) I went for a toffee pudding with ice-cream and a hot toffee sauce. It was pretty good without being remarkable. Often in this type of dish the sponge gets very dry and is a let-down but this was quite moist and the sauce provided a powerful sugary kick.
We didn't have any wine so I can't pass comment here.

Overall, I think long may the current land-lords/owners stay as they are clearly on the right track as the dining room was packed. The service was chirpy and friendly (the pub is nearly entirely staffed by 20-something's in black uniforms) and the prices very competitve. If I was looking to find fault (and I don't like to), i'd say the choice of furnishings left a little to be desired with very modern looking chairs and tables in the dining areas where perhaps a more traditional look would have been better suited and some cheap-looking high tables with uncomfortable backed bar stools (IKEA?) in the small bar area. But I can't really knock it, not after the great meal we had.
willyfog - 31 Mar 2008 18:39
Dear sir or madam,

My wife and I regularly dine out and we have a number of restaurants we consider as our favourites within a radius of Abingdon. On Saturday 27th Oct we dinned for the first time at your restaurant which had been recommended by a colleague of my wife, both of whom are chef trainers at Oxford Brooks University and as such, have high standard expectations.

Both my wife and I were very impressed with not only the relaxed and friendly helpful and attentive bar and waiting staff, the lovely atmosphere [helped by that lovely open fire], but also the superb uncomplicated concise menu and the excellent wine, priced very reasonably.

In fact so impressed that we decided to change or plans for Christmas day and have booked with you. We will certainly put your restaurant high on our favourites list and we will be back soon.

Thank you to all your staff for a memorable dining experience. See you again soon.

Best Regards,

David Leak

anonymous - 2 Nov 2007 16:37
Good food and suitable place to take Granny and the kids. The downsides are there really isn't much of a bar area - this is really a restaurant, and you may feel uncomfortable if you are under 60 years old.
alphabravo - 7 Jun 2007 09:00
Hi this is my local & has quite a 'chequered' past. Recently taken over by Steve & Laura this pub is definitely on the 'up'. Very well-kept real ales, (Hooky, Adnams, Ridgeway etc. a constantly changing selection,) are reinforced by high class lagers: Bitburger & Budvar. Steve in the kitchen, is a excellent chef & has taken great care over the menu, using locally sourced ingredients, producing real pub-cooked food. Laura runs the front-of-house with a smile & tolerates the foibles of the 'regulars'. What more can I say? Just a little while ago we were scared the pub would close, no chance now. ps They are not paying me to submit this, but then again................
peterread - 25 Mar 2007 23:47
visited this pub for the the fourth time yesterday(13/5/06)to find that it had apparently changed hands,gone were the unique ales,replaced with (very palatable) Hook Norton Hooky ,Old Hooky ,and 303,menu had also changed and it was staffed by a very friendly group of young ladies.
motorcyclemichael - 14 May 2006 09:07

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