A modern British inn. The Wild Rabbit isn’t everyday dining, it’s something special.

Creating an amazing dining experience is for many restaurants a matter of luck. It shouldn’t be but it often is. All too often I’ve thought a restaurant was amazing only to have the illusion shattered when I’ve returned a second time. Where once was crispy kale now lieth limp lettuce. For shame.

I was then, a tad apprehensive about returning to what had last year become my all-time favourite restaurant. To make matters worse I’d cajoled friends into coming with me after bigging the place up for months. Could the Wild Rabbit live up to expectations?


The Venue

The Wild Rabbit can be found in Kingham, Oxfordshire. Sitting between Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Norton, we’re definitely in the Cotswolds here. This was further evidenced on my visit by a disproportionate number of Range Rovers parked outside and young thirtysomethings wearing pastel colours as subdued as the Cotswold stone this modern British Inn is made from.

On entering you’re greeted by a typical British pub avec open fire, a well-stocked bar and a local sharing a pint of artisanal beer with their border collie. The perfect country pub. But look a little closer and you start to notice the ‘twist’. This country pub is not only cleaner and tidier than your average local – it’s impeccably curated.

From the clean lines of the stone floor tiles to the shades of leather used for the fireside chairs, every single detail has been carefully, even painstakingly thought through. You’ll find no beer-soaked sticky carpet here.

Walk around the bar to the light and airy restaurant area and there’s no mistaking the clean, muted earth tones of Carole Bamford. If you’re none the wiser Carole Bamford, the mastermind behind the Daylesford Organic Farm shops, makes Cath Kidston look like she’s on acid. Psychedelic floral swirls won’t cut it here, modern Cotswolds is all about clean lines, muted earth tones and simplicity – and Carole Bamford nails it.

The restaurant is spacious, almost sparse, and yet somehow feels cosy. The kitchen is open so you can watch the chefs hard at work and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d walked onto the set of a Daz commercial; I’ve never seen chefs whites so blindingly white!


The Food

To start I had a Wye Valley Asparagus salad with pickled onion, whipped goats curd and walnut puree. Asparagus is notoriously difficult to get ‘just right’ but mine was reassuringly tender. The pickled onion cut through the richness of the goats curd and the pain polain (that’s fancy bread to you and me) offered a crispy contrast in texture. I could have easily polished off a few of these starters.

Being a Sunday and the venue being a ‘pub’, amongst a couple of fish and vegetarian options I ventured on the meatier side of the menu and opted for roasted blue legbar chicken with herb stuffing and sourdough bread sauce. Evidently not even bread sauce is fit for purpose anymore unless it’s sourdough! I was presented with a carefully assembled mound of multi-coloured edibles resembling a roast dinner which seemed a tad sparse but were, to my surprise, deceptively filling.

The chicken breast was generous and mercifully moist, sitting atop a small splodge of mashed potato. Two roast potatoes were its partners in crime and nestled between them something masquerading as a crouton. It wasn’t a crouton but some kind of shredded meaty breaded cube. I’m showing my ignorance here but whatever it was, I liked it. A small but surprisingly tasty florette of cauliflower and a trendy purple carrot also graced my plate amongst other familiars of the Sunday roast. All cooked to perfection.

Too often restaurants try to do weird and elaborate things with Sunday roasts as if traditional British food is somehow not impressive enough (gargantuan Yorkshire puddings the size of your head spring to mind) and I was relieved to see my plate had been spared this farcical treatment. There’s something to be said for simplicity, especially simplicity on a plate.

Dessert was a big deal for me. My previous visit to the Wild Rabbit gave me one of my best food memories of all time. I’ll never forget my goats curd with meringue and lemon granita. I still can’t pass a goat without getting all misty-eyed! This time it was a sheep’s curd moose with blueberries, honeycomb and apple marigold. I wasn’t disappointed. The innocent looking little assemblage presented to me was the perfect balance of soft, rich sheep’s curd pierced by the sweetness of the blueberries, crunch of the biscuit base they sat upon and the unexpected fizz of the honeycomb. For me, it was edible happiness.

The Service

The relaxed atmosphere of the Wild Rabbit is incredibly deceptive. When it comes to table service you’ll receive some of the very best in the industry – only your waiter will be wearing chinos and a linen jacket. Staff are talkative without being intrusive, both knowledgeable of, and genuinely interested in the food they serve and, as we discovered, will happily rummage around in the store cupboard to find out exactly where the cocoa beans in their chocolate moose come from. You can expect your water glass to be topped up, your napkins re-folded if you step away from your chair and your bread crumbs discreetly wiped away from the table between courses. And, crucially for many people, you’re spared the awkwardness of having to ask about food allergens as your host will invite you to tell them so the menu can be altered if needed. This is definitely a restaurant where neither the food nor the service let the other down.


The Price

The Wild Rabbit leans toward the pricier end of the dining budget with starters averaging £13 and mains £25. Not ludicrous though when you consider the prices of some London restaurants which are often left wanting. For me, I’m happy to pay prices like this if I can clearly see and taste the creativity and expertise of the chefs.

The Wild Rabbit isn’t everyday dining, it’s something special and it’s worth paying for. Believe me, there aren’t many restaurants I hold in such high esteem.

The Wild Rabbit

Church Street, Kingham,  Oxfordshire, OX7 6YA   |   Website >

The Venue 9/10
The Food 10/10
The Price 8/10

THE VENUE: A beautiful, light and airy country inn set in the heart of the cotswolds. Parking can be pretty difficult at busy times. THE FOOD: Great seasonal, organic food cooked to perfection. Much of which is produced on the neighbouring Daylesford estate. THE PRICE: Pricier than your usual gastro pub, but then this isn't your usual gastro pub and worth splashing the extra cash for.