It’s getting to that time of year again where I get another year older. This year myself and Clara have taken a break in the Cotswolds (cottage review to appear soon) and Clara treated me to lunch at The Wild Rabbit in Kingham, recently awarded it’s first Michelin star in the 2017 awards. Kingham reminds me a little of Bray (in terms of quality of food per person who lives there!), as the tiny village has two very high quality pubs, including The Kingham Plough (no stars at yet!), which we’ve already added to our list for a future visit.
The Wild Rabbit is part of the Dayleford Organic Farms empire, owned by Lady Bamford. This is a traditional, English pub with restaurant and rooms — although one of the poshest pubs you are likely to visit!
We booked for a Tuesday lunch in October and I didn’t exactly expect the restaurant to be busy. Exactly how we like it. On arrival at the pub we were blown away with just how beautiful it looks. The original building at the front has been meticulously restored and a large open plan restaurant, complete with open plan kitchen has been built into the rear.
On walking through the front door we were greeted by a wonderful open fire. We walked through the cosy, comfortable bar area and were led into the restaurant at the rear. The restaurant is lovely, dressed like a massive farmhouse kitchen with large islands with the cheese selection and freshly baked bread as well as dressers, and of course, numerous rabbits (none alive), after which the pub is named.
As we guessed, we were the first to be seated and we were only joined by two other tables. I’ve no doubt things would be busier during the holidays and weekends — but it really felt like we were eating in a private house as there were so few people around.
The menu is fairly limited with 5–6 choices per course, but I don’t think I’ve been to many places where everything I saw on the menu appealed so much. I started with the quail, served like a work of art and comprising leg and breast of quail with sauces. Clara had duck to start, served with Daylesford organic leaves and bacon lardons — this was definitely one of the larger starters and was a good portion suitable for those with larger appetites! All the food we ate was dressed to perfection but also tasted great. They say that you eat with your eyes and I love coming to places where the food looks so great when it arrives at your table.
I ordered the Wootton Organic Lamb for main with a side of lovely triple-cooked chips, served with a gravy, spinach and bright green olive puree. Clara ordered the rib-eye steak, again served with yellow, chunky chips. Everything was cooked to perfection and the lamb dish really stood out aesthetically again. The triple-cooked chips were up to the standards of any I’d had before! The steak was served on the traditional wooden board and was well cooked over charcoal and as good as any steakhouse we’ve eaten in before.
We were pretty full-up by this point but couldn’t resist moving onto desserts. Again the menu only had 4 options, plus sorbet and cheese, but I struggled to decide as all looked amazing. Clara opted for the sorbet selection (pineapple, white peach and apple), while I decided on the bitter chocolate selection, including mousse, chocolate and vanilla sorbet, poached pears and crumble. Again, the sheer beauty of the dessert made it even more tasty and we had no problems leaving empty plates again!
Service throughout the meal was really friendly as you’d expect from a country pub. Although the restaurant was quite empty the bar area had more people coming in for a quick lunch and looking at the menu I can see why people would come here for a quick bite. What the restaurant has in friendliness it didn’t lack in professionalism. Service covered everything you would expect from a Michelin starred restaurant and was attentive to our needs throughout. I really felt relaxed and welcomed throughout and would thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting to try out a Michelin starred place without worrying it will be too ‘stuck-up’ or ‘posh’.
While we didn’t order any wine while we were there, there were plenty of options, including many reasonably priced options by the glass. Coming from our normal London restaurants, the prices here were much more reasonable.
Finally, we finished with freshly baked madeleines, lemon-drizzle flavour and lemon curd — mine served with a chocolate Happy Birthday etched on a plate. Overall we’d had a great, relaxed lunch at The Wild Rabbit. I’d really been impressed by the combination of looks and taste presented to us through all the dishes. I would definitely return, and even with the limited selection on offer, could easily visit 3–4 more times and eat something different each time. If you’re in the area, don’t drive past without visiting!