The Wild Rabbit
- When: November 2016
- Michelin Stars: 1
- Male DINK Rating: 11/15
- Female DINK Rating: 11/15
- Total Cost: $194; Food Cost: $115
The Wild Rabbit is a pub, restaurant, and inn (with 12 rooms) located in the tiny town of Kingham – between Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Norton – in the Cotswolds. Importantly, it was recently awarded its first Michelin star. Since we were staying in the nearby Burton-on-the-Water (a quick 15-minute drive), making a dinner reservation at The Wild Rabbit was a no-brainer. We were also curious to compare our experience to the other one-starred pub we dined at during this trip, The Hinds Head.
Our itinerary for that day had us visiting Stonehenge, Salisbury, and Bath, so we had to make a later reservation (9pm) for dinner. The drive from Burton to Kingham brought us through Stow on a main road, but after Stow, the navigation took us on several back roads that were pitch black at this time of night. The Wild Rabbit itself was easy to spot, as it is located on the main road through town and looks just like an old inn. There were a few parking spots on the street in front, but they were occupied. There was also a small parking lot behind the building that was also full-up. We drove around the block once, and luckily someone had vacated their spot by that time.
Walking up to the inn, you walk through a nice patio area (vacant at this time of day and year), which looked to be a great place to have a pint in better weather. You immediately walk into the bar through the front door. The bar area seemed incredibly cozy, complete with dual fireplaces, leather seating, and a traditional bar. We want to come back and spend time here!
We were immediately seated (next to another American couple, judging by their accents), in the decent-size, open and airy dining area (complete with its own fireplace), which is separated from – and behind – the bar area. There were quite a few patrons for a Monday night. We were quickly given menus and, after a brief period, were asked for our drink order. Female DINK ordered wine, and I inquired about a beer menu/list. The waitress looked at me a bit funny, and I, realizing no beer list was going to be provided, asked the follow up question of what they had on draft.
I was a bit disappointed in the lack of information regarding the draft selection and the bottle selection (a menu would help), given their website’s claim that they have a “mix of artisan beers.” However, the wine list was quite impressive in relation to the size of the establishment. If we didn’t have a long day ahead of us the next morning, we would have gladly ordered either the Les Pagodes from Cos d’Estournel or La Chapelle de La Mission Haut-Brion. Shortly after ordering, we were presented with a canapé of parmesan crisp, goat cheese, and truffle. This was very good.
The first course arrived after a decent wait. Female DINK had the Hen Pheasant with pear, barbecue hispi, wet walnuts, sauté bacon, and bitter leaves. First impression: Did I order a salad? The greens were large and plentiful, and the entire dish was a large portion. The pheasant (a large portion) was served cold, which Female DINK did not really prefer, but all of the ingredients went together well. Female DINK thought this dish was good but not great.
Male DINK’s first course was Quail (roasted breasts and crispy legs) with Morteau sausage, smoked shallot, and verjus reduction. This was a strong starter – both in terms of being very good and being large. The quail was tender, well-cooked, and delicious. The smoked shallot puree was topped with fried shallots and had a great, smooth flavor. I really liked this dish.
After ordering another beer, our main courses arrived. Female DINK was presented with the Wootton organic lamb, which was served with butternut squash, Parmesan bon bon, and green olives. The lamb was exquisite – very tender and flavorful – and did not have a strong lamb flavor. The green olives were a great compliment. Also, the squash puree and toasted nuts gave the dish a seasonal feel. The parmesan bon bon was delicious (but who doesn’t love parmesan?). This dish was another large portion, but it was very good.
Male DINK’s main course was Rump of English veal with fricassee of braised veal, confit onion, truffle puree, baby capers, and mushrooms. The large onion was a bit excessive, but the onion or shallot puree was welcome. The veal was nicely prepared and was tender and flavorful. What I really enjoyed from the dish was the greens and the jus – they just seemed to mesh. Call me strange, but I would have enjoyed having a small serving of roasted potatoes with this dish. Overall, though, it was very good.
After finishing with the mains, the waitress brought us dessert menus. Female DINK ordered the Cheesecake, which was served with vanilla quince, crumble, caramelized honey, and wet walnuts. Male DINK ordered the Bitter chocolate, accompanied by poached pear, grue de cacao, and chocolate sorbet. We also both ordered a glass of sauternes.
The Cheesecake, per Female DINK, was outstanding. The vanilla cheesecake was more of a cream than an actual cheesecake, which allowed her to enjoy it with the other ingredients more easily. The caramelized honey – a thin, round sheet – sat atop the cheesecake and provided a nice crunchy sweetness. This dish was filling but still light, and was a great combination of flavors.
The Bitter chocolate was good, but wasn’t my favorite dessert. The individual elements were great, but the dish seemed a bit out of sorts. I don’t know why. The combination of chocolate and pear just didn’t happen for me. After dissecting the dish, the chocolate sorbet was great, as were the poached pears.
Overall, we enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere. The restaurant was casual, but nice, and the staff were all friendly. Although, we would have liked descriptions of the dishes as they arrived. We feel that the meal was a good value for the money, and every ingredient seemed very fresh. In terms of evaluating The Wild Rabbit’s new Michelin star, we feel that it is on par with most of the other one-star restaurants from this trip. If anything, we’ll be back (and you should go!) to enjoy a pint in the cozy pub area.
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