UK's only Polecat? Award-winning pub-restaurant operator adds uniquely named sixth venue to Bucks roster
Following a substantial investment by its new owners, Oakman Inns, and several months closure, Prestwood’s village pub, The Polecat Inn, led by new General Manager, Damien Hughes, re-opened its doors for the busy Easter Weekend.
Oakman believe it is the only pub named The Polecat in the UK. The original listed building has been sympathetically restored. The network of original bars with their cosy fires have been retained and redecorated with a modern twist and plenty of comfortable seating while, upstairs, the Ladies’ ‘Powder Room’, with its large, circular velvet seat and sumptuous design, is becoming a real talking point.
Behind the original pub, there is now a new light-filled, 65 seat restaurant with glass outside ‘walls’ and sliding doors opening onto a pretty landscaped terrace. This is also home to a full-length, open theatre-style kitchen, clad in local flint - a tribute to a traditional craft, used in a contemporary way. From their seats, diners can watch craftsmanship in the kitchen where The Polecat’s Head Chef, James Norie, and his expert team, busily prepare tasty Mediterranean-inspired, seasonal dishes throughout the day. These include charcoal-grilled meats, fish and vegetables, a range of pasta dishes and salads, while traditional Neapolitan pizzas are hand-made by trained pizzaioli in the wood-fired oven.
If you’re driving, you’ll see that they’ve moved and enlarged the car park. This has freed up room for the large terrace and fresh landscaping that wraps around the new restaurant, seamlessly blending with the view of the Chilterns that remains framed by the old, majestic Oak tree, that the owners ensured was nurtured during the turmoil of the building works.
Regardless of whether they are inside or out, guests can enjoy an extensive range of expertly mixed cocktails, fine wines, gins or a selection of Artisan coffee and teas from the bar. The Polecat is also recommending a pint of Malt the Brewery’s ale brewed by Jenny and Nick Watson, a few minutes’ walk from the pub.
At the Opening Party, over 200 local community and business leaders celebrated The Polecat Inn’s re-opening and had an opportunity to see the changes and sample the menu. Pints of Malt Ale were also raised by the Rev. Deiniol Heywood, Rector of Prestwood, Nick Watson, owner of Malt the Brewery and Damien Hughes (pictured above). The Rev. Deiniol Heywood said: “A good pub lies at the heart of any community, and it is great to see the Polecat rejuvenated and revitalised. It is a real investment for Prestwood, and the new restaurant significantly adds to what's available in the village. Damien has some great ideas. I look forward to the new Polecat being a real asset in our community, as well as a great place for lunch.”
General Manager, Damien Hughes, leads his new team of 50, most of whom live locally, and his enthusiasm is infectious. “We’re so proud of our beautiful pub which is what we believe a 21st Century pub should be – serving great food and drinks for all ages, tastes and occasions at a time our guests want to be served. I believe that we publicans are vital in ensuring that pubs remain relevant and in use and we want The Polecat to be the best in the area. We had a very busy opening weekend and we’re all looking forward to properly embedding ourselves into the fabric of the local community, becoming a genuine part of the local character.”
John Cadman, Chair of the Prestwood Village Association, who attended the Opening Party, commented: “Although I arrived late, the others told me how successful and impressive the evening had been, especially the staff. And, like many other people, I am pleased they have largely retained much of the character of the original part of the building. The Polecat is very important to Prestwood. Personally, I think we are fortunate that Peter Borg-Neal and Oakman Inns have invested so much to give us such a prestigious venue and we wish it every success.”