Village pub in Northamptonshire countryside oozes rustic charm and cosiness
On a quest to find the best country pub in and around Northampton, we landed up in one of the most beautiful villages of them all.
The Saracen's Head sits in the heart of Little Brington in Main Street surrounded by chocolate box cottages and just a few miles down the road from Princess Diana's family home in Althorp.
The peaceful village is sleepy and stunning yet just four miles out of Duston so not far to travel if you fancy a break from town.
Parking is tucked away down the side drive of the pub and there is plenty of it.
The outside eating and drinking area is lovely and stylish with rattan furniture, stunning views and family friendly too.
Inside, the pub is so warm, cosy and brimming with atmosphere even at 6pm on a Wednesday. Nearly every table in the casual bar area was taken with guests relaxing with a drink.
Many had dogs with them so clearly, it's doggy friendly.
After pre-dinner drinks we were seated in one of the two intimate dining areas which had just a handful of tables in it featuring stone walls, bookshelves, low lighting and cosy candles.
Service was prompt and friendly both at the bar and the restaurant.
The menu is seasonal and includes locally sourced favorites alongside traditional pub classics.
Starters included grilled smoked mackerel, local wood pigeon and head to trotter terrine, as well as a selection of nibbles.
The three of us opted for the charcuterie board (£15) which included salami milano, spanish chorizo, prosciutto crudo, salsiccia piccante, house marinated olives, ciabatta, olive oil and aged modena balsamic with bocconcini mozzarella.
It was delicious. There was so much flavour in the meat and the warm bread felt very indulgent after a week of diets.
Our only minor criticism was there wasn't much of it for the price and we'd have liked to have seen a bit more mozzarella scattered around the board.
The main courses are split into sections on the menu - mains, from the grill and handcrafted stone baked pizzas.
Time for some tough decisions as they all sounded and looked very appetising as we saw various dishes delivered to neighbouring diners.
We ended up with the seafood linguini (£16) with king prawns, seared scallops, Devon crab and chorizo tossed through linguini with chilli, vine tomatoes, garlic and fresh parsley.
It was divine and no complaints whatsoever on this dish which was plentiful, fresh and bursting with flavour.
The fish and chips come in two portion sizes (£8/£13) so our diner went for the smaller option which was a good size and a bargain price.
This pub classic was a Timothy Taylor Landlord battered cod tail fillet with thick cut chips, tartare sauce, minted peas.
Our diner did enjoy the meal but the fish and chips were both really over-fried and, whilst you do expect some grease, there was too much of it.
Next up was the spiced halloumi and five bean burger (£12) with tomato relish, tzatziki, baby gem and fries.
The burger was delicious with loads of flavour, however, you would never know there was any halloumi in it.
It was more of a bean burger with no sign at all of any of the popular squeaky cheese which is featured on so many menus at the moment.
We asked the waitress how it was made to be told the halloumi was blended in with the beans and spices to make one whole burger, whereas we'd assumed the halloumi would sit on top of it.
Definitely, in our opinion, it was a wasted ingredient.
Full but not wanting to give up on sweet treats, we chose two puddings between three of us.
One warm dark chocolate brownie, maple and walnut ice cream, chocolate soil and toffee popcorn (£6) and the other a freshly baked double chocolate cookie, vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce (£6).
The chocolate cookie was all that you'd want it to be - warm, gooey and indulgent. Well worth the calories for a weekday treat.
Unfortunately, we were hugely disappointed with the brownie which was very dry, crumbly and lacking any satisfaction. After a couple of spoonfuls we gave up and it felt like a waste of £6.
We did feed this back to the waitress but it remained on the bill and returned to the kitchen uneaten.
Service was really quick, friendly, efficient and knowledgable but lacked any real results from the issues we'd raised. Maybe because it was down to our personal tastes perhaps.
The Saracen's Head, which is multi-award winning, remains at the heart of this tight-knit community and it's great to see a thriving pub full of warmth and laughter.
There were a few niggles here and there with the food but overall it remains a lovely place to eat and drink whether it be outside overlooking the fields or inside in the cosy warm.
Chron rating: 7/10