Dining Out near Wren House & The Granary
This particular area of the Cotswolds is wonderfully served by some very good quality gastro-pubs and restaurants. Some of the better ones within 10-15 miles of Wren House (with websites, and postcodes for those with Sat Nav!) are detailed below with an asterisk (*) where they have been tested.
You are strongly advised to BOOK well ahead, particularly for Friday and Saturday nights, even in the winter months.
Updated August 2019
*The Hare, Milton-under-Wychwood, OX7 6LA (10 miles) 01993-835763: Sue and Rachel Hawkins’ tenth pub is another huge success. Tasteful décor, with a splurge of orange, and delicious fare, particularly for those who like fish or seafood. The finest Moules Mariniere I have had in a long time! The ‘Marine Cuisine’ blackboard specials are sourced directly from Dartmouth and Cornwall daily and Matt Dare, Head Chef, knows what to do! The service is fun; the cutlery is stored where the keys should be in a piano – the Hawkins’ hallmark! No children’s menu, but then, be imaginative, a side is Macaroni Cheese! Friday nights is Champagne Happy Hour at 5 p.m. Don’t be put off by the rather shabby car park which is, in fact, owned by the Council and currently up for planning, so it’s going to be the street in 2019 which is OK! 7 Days. Mon-Sat Lunch 12-2.30, Dinner 6-9 (9.30 Fri and Sat), Sunday 12 noon – 8 pm www.themiltonhare.co.uk
*The Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach, GL54 3EZ (10 miles) 01451-860244. Lovely place to eat with a great ambience and delicious to very delicious food. A bit further to drive that many of the others, but worth it. Part of the Lucky Onion group of Cotswold hostelries owned by Sam and Georgie Pearman, it has an imaginative menu (and fun seasonal cocktails) and the roaring fire in winter is a great draw. Northleach is a classic Cotswold wool town with an exceptionally beautiful church, so a visit to that combined with lunch works well, especially Sunday lunch with some particularly good roasts. 7 Days. Lunch Mon-Sat 12-3 including a very well-priced set menu, Sun 12-3.30, Dinner 7 Days 6-9 (bit later at weekends).www.cotswoldswheatsheaf.com
*The Churchill Arms, Paxford, GL55 6XH (8 miles) 01386-593159: Warwickshire-born chef and owner, Nick Deverell-Smith, opened up in February 2015 and it is now one of my go-to pubs of choice. The atmosphere is simple but extremely tasteful (with excellent loos!) and the food is really superb with great attention to detail. My Calves Liver with bacon was beautifully balanced with sweet onion and a mustard twist to give a terrific piquancy, my friend’s T bone of pork delicious with excellent crackling and another’s crab and beautifully dressed salad was exactly the light and tasty lunch she was hoping for. “It’s not just any old pub: it’s a 17th century inn with flagstone floors, an inglenook fireplace and a chef-patron, Nick Deverell-Smith, who honed his craft working under Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing and Marco Pierre-White.” COUNTRY LIFE MAGAZINE. Closed Mondays. Tue-Thurs 12-9, Fri/Sat 12-11, Sun 12-6. www.thechurchillarms.co
*The Wild Rabbit, Kingham, OX7 6YA (5.5 miles) 01608-658389: A good place for a long, special lunch. It captures all the style of its sister enterprise just up the road – the Bamford/Daylesford Organic complex. Classic, stone floors and tables nicely spaced so as not to intrude on one another and a choice of the bar or a Conservatory style dining room and an al fresco eating area to watch the comings and goings in Kingham. Service courtesy wobbled at a recent visit but you could not fault the delicious and interesting fare, or the mind-boggling and interesting wine list. New chefs in May 2018 – untested – Alyn Williams and Nathan Eades. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, but The Kingham Plough, a few paces up the road, is open on both. The Wild Rabbit is open Wednesday to Sunday serving in both Restaurant and Bar. Chicken Shed available for private dining parties. www.thewildrabbit.co.uk
*The Feathered Nest, Nether Westcote, OX7 6SD (7 miles) 01993-833030. This is fine dining and going from strength to strength with chef, Kuba Winkowski’s imaginative and absolutely delectable cuisine. We raved. Combine a gorgeous setting with a lovely view (ask for a table near the window) and spend time to enjoy it – it’s not cheap! Set lunch Thurs-Sat £45 3 courses (£55 Sunday). Restaurant lunch and dinner – £70 4 courses, £80 5 courses, £90 6 courses. Closed Monday-Wednesday. Thursday-Sunday 12-2.30 (3.30 Sun) and 6.30 (7 Sun)-9.30. www.thefeatherednestinn.co.uk
*The Plough, Kingham, OX7 6YD (5.5 miles) 01608-658327: Just up the road from the Wild Rabbit (the Plough came first!). Emily Watkins, with husband Miles Lampson, opened in 2007 with the intention of excellent food and, with a family of their own now, being both child and dog friendly. There are a series of different dining areas with scrubbed pine tables and a easy mood – rustic sophistication with lots of space between tables and peaceful colours. Other pubs are closed Mondays, some Tuesdays and even Wednesdays. The Wild Rabbit down the road is not available Mondays and Tuesdays, but the Plough is open 7 days. Recent experiences have varied, and their outside area is unfortunately right beside the car park, but some good reports too. Lunch 12.-2.30 (Sun 11.30-3), Dinner (except Sundays) 6-9. www.thekinghamplough.co.uk
*The Old Butcher’s, Park Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AB (2 miles) 01451-831700: Peter and Louise Robinson opened in 2005 and provide consistently good food at this bistro-style eaterie not too far from Wren House. The only negative comments are that the waiting staff need better guidance, but that varies so don’t panic. 7 Days 12-2.30 and 6.30-9.30 (Sat 6.30-10, Sun 7-9). www.theoldbutchers.squarespace.com
*The Fox Inn, Lower Oddington, GL56 OUR (3 miles) 01451-870555: This has really upped its game recently. It is a pretty pub with a crackling fire in winter and an attractive eating out area in summer. Good pub fare, depending on your choice (with some spectacular misses too unfortunately) but good service. If you want a classic Cotswold pub not far from Wren House/The Granary, this is the one for you with flagstones, beams and open fires. 7 days. Lunch 12-2.30 (Sun 12-3), Dinner 6-9 (Sun 6-8.30).www.thefoxatoddington.com. (Don’t confuse this with The Fox Inn in Broadwell where the food is not at this level.)
*The King’s Head Inn, Bledington, OX7 6XQ (6 miles) 01608-658365: Archie and Nicola Orr-Ewing bought this pub in 2000. As Archie says about hospitality: ‘You either have it, or you don’t!’ And they do! The bar area is far and away the more atmospheric place to eat though it can be noisy, the restaurant is more stark and definitely lacks atmosphere. The food, however, rates good to very good and sometimes quite excellent. The Orr-Ewings, since 2006, also run the Swan Inn at Swinbrook near Burford (see below). 7 days. Lunch: 12-2, (Sun 12-3), Dinner: 6.30-9. www.thekingsheadinn.net
*Daylesford Organic Farm Shop Café & Restaurant, Daylesford near Kingham, GL56 0YG (4 miles) 01608 731700: Lunch is best! Opened in 2003 and expanding in various venues in London, this is the brainchild of Carole Bamford, wife of the head of JCB excavators, who has brought organics-with-style to the market. Beautifully housed and laid out in a series of traditional Cotswold stone barns, it is more reminiscent of a London store Food Hall than a Farm Shop. The café restaurant is alright, but not as exceptional as it should be (Mon-Sat 8-8, Sunday 10-4). The cafe (outside) is delightful – with a brazier in colder periods (Mon – Sat 8-4.30, Sun 10-3.30), but the better place to eat – up on high stools – is the Old Spot restaurant (Mon-Sat 8-9, Sun 10-3.30) It is good, but I have been a bit disappointed, and you would do much better at the Wild Rabbit in Kingham nearby (listed above) which is also Daylesford owned. www.daylesford.com
*The Swan Inn, Swinbrook, near Burford, OX18 4DY (12 miles) 01993-823339: This pubs is idyllic, situated as it is beside the river. It also has a fascinating recent history. It was owned by the late Duchess of Devonshire, Debo, the last of the Mitford sisters who lived at Batsford House, then Asthall Manor and, finally, Swinbrook Manor. Theirs is a rich history of the era and the area and well worth exploring. Four of the Mitford Girls are buried at Swinbrook church where, from boredom the girls used to lick the pews! In a conversation (in full on the website) the Duchess revealed to her publican, Archie Orr-Ewing (who also owns and runs The Horse and Groom Inn at nearby Bledington), some delightful titbits of local interest. The pub was also used as the film set for the elopement of Lady Sybil and chauffeur Branson in the first series of Downton Abbey and, more recently, was the scene of a matey pub pint with ex-Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, and ex-President Hollande of France – almost as ancient history! The décor is simple (plenty of pictures of the Mitford girls) and tasteful and the food is good to first class. But it is more than just a good food experience …. 7 days. Lunch 12-2(2.30 Sat, 3 Sun), Dinner 7-9 (Sun 7-8.30) www.theswaninnswinbrook.co.uk.
*The Bell at Stow, Park Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AJ (2 miles) 01451-870916: The pub was transformed by the Hawkins ladies – now at the Hare at Milton (above) but has since sold to Young’s Brewery. It retains its charm, but the food, though good, is not as interesting. Don’t ignore it if you are nearby, its highly enjoyable and hospitable. Live music in the piano bar on Sunday evenings (8-10). 7 Days 12-9.30 (9 on Sun). www.thebellatstow.com
*The Porch House, Digbeth Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1BN (2 miles) 01451-870048: Formerly the Royalist Hotel – a hotel since 947AD. Very close to the centre of Stow (without the bus tours who tend towards the tea shops), it provides a calmly decorated, stripped wood floor venue. The main restaurant of the hotel is perhaps more pub than restaurant (an August 2019 experience). The pub and conservatory area has not had such good reports. The pub and Conservatory serve Lunch/Dinner: Mon-Sat Noon-9.30, Sun Noon-8.30, Dining Room Dinner: Mon – Sat 6.30-9.30, closed Sunday. www.porch-house.co.uk
The Chequers, Churchill near Chipping Norton, OX7 6NJ (7 miles) 01608-659393: Attractive decor and a good pub for good to middling eating. Yet to see if, after a recent change of management, it excels. There are signs ….. 7 Days – Lunch 12-3, Dinner 6-9.30 (6-10 Fri and Sat). www.thechequerschurchill.com
*The Horse and Groom, Bourton-on-the-Hill near Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 9AQ (5 miles) 01386-700413: Although no longer owned by the Greenstock boys (when it was wonderful) it is still a nice pub and falls into the ‘not a bad place to eat a good meal near to Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Campden’. Feint praise unfortunately. Order from the blackboard at the bar. Garden area for al-fresco dining or pre dinner drinks in summer. They open at 6 p.m. – food from 7 p.m. Lunch 12-2 (Sunday 12-2.30), Dinner Mon-Thurs 7-9 (7-9.30 Fri & Sat), closed Sun eve. www.horseandgroom.info (Don’t confuse this with the Horse and Groom at Upper Oddington.)
The Sheep on Sheep Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AG (2 miles) 01451-830344: Formerly The Grapevine, this was taken over by Brakspear (2016). The food is reportedly good, with emphasis on pizza but also standard mains at standard prices for the area, so good if your numbers are high. However, whilst the tables are spaced out and there is a large variety of places to eat and a terrace at the back, there is a whiff of ‘chain’ about it. To its advantage very central in Stow, with space and not far from Wren House. Food Mon-Thurs Noon – 9.30, Fri and Sat Noon – 10 p.m. www.thesheepstow.co.uk
The Cotswold Foodstore and Cafe, on the A424 near Longborough, GL56 0QZ (2 miles) 01451-830469: Run by Bernard and Joanne Williams, this is a very lovely foodstore with cafe – with a stonking view! Good home cooking. Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays. Tuesday- Saturday 9-4.30, Sunday 10-4.www.cotswoldfoodstore.com
Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter, GL54 2JD (6 miles) 01451-820243: The place for a special occasion with white table cloths and similar trappings. With a new chef, Charles Smith, it is yet to be seen if the Michelin star (since 2006) will be retained. Hopeful signs. Charles’s experience includes Petrus with Marcus Wareing, Per Se in New York with Thomas Keller, Kitchen table, Fera at Claridges and The Westbury with Alyn Williams, now the new chef just down the road at The Wild Rabbit at Kingham. You MUST book well ahead as they only have limited space for non-residents. Bar lunch 12-2 Monday to Friday, and a very reasonably priced 3 course lunch on Saturdays and Sundays at £37.50. Sunday to Thursday, an a la carte 3 course menu at £72.50, and a Signature 7 course tasting menu each evening at £90 a head. Glorious village and pretty approach. Excellent reports. www.lordsofthemanor.com
No 5 (North Street), Winchcombe, GL54 5LH (15 miles) 01242-604566: Because of the distance – almost to Cheltenham – and a wiggly journey, this restaurant should be tied in with a taxi booking! But apparently WOW! Kate waits, and is married to Gus Ashenford. They opened in January 2003, Mathew Fort visited and wrote them up, and they shot to fame and haven’t looked back since. Everyone who has tried this gurgles with its delights. Lunch: Wed-Sun 12.30-1.30 (2 course £27, 3 course £32, 3 course Sunday £38), Dinner: Tues-Sat 7-9 (7 course £74, 3 course £54). Closed Sun eve, Mon and Tues lunch. www.5northstreetrestaurant.co.uk
*Wild Thyme, Chipping Norton, New Street, OX7 5LJ (9 miles) 01608-645060: Fresh and local or beautifully sourced ingredients with a Mediterranean twist. The wine list is pricey but Nick Pullen and Sally Daniel have created a good atmosphere and some quite excellent fare at good prices. Lunch: Thurs – Sat 12-2 (set menu 2 courses £20, 3 courses £25). Dinner: Tues – Sat 7-9 (Sat 6.30-9.30). Closed Sunday and Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday lunch. www.wildthymerestaurant.co.uk
Mulberry Restaurant or Beagle Brasserie, Manor House Hotel, Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 0LJ (3 miles) 01608-650501: A bit corporate – this has been tested by guests. Good, but could be anywhere, was their view with slightly ‘over-sourced’ menu. Perfect if you want a nearby, attractive hotel setting. Sunday Lunch: 12-2.30. Dinner: 7 days 7-9/9.30. www.cotswold-inns-hotel.co.uk/manor/
Three Ways House Hotel and Pudding Club, Mickleton, near Chipping Campden (& Hidcote & Kiftsgate), GL55 6SB (14 miles) 01386-438429: 7 days 7-9.30, Sun lunch 12-2.30. www.puddingclub.com
Coffee Shop and fabulous Digbeth Street, Stow-on-the-Wold
Stow-on-the-Wold has many great shops – this is the best shopping street in town in my view!
New England Coffee House, Digbeth Street, Stow-on-the-Wold (2 miles) 01451-831171. 7 days. Digbeth Street is at the far end of Stow running downhill eastwards. Don’t miss it! Reportedly the best coffee in Stow and child and dog friendly. A series of ‘retro’ decorated rooms and friendly. Don’t fail to pop into the Crock (kitchenalia+) shop just down the road, or the Borzoi Bookshop opposite (a classic, helpful old-style bookshop), or the Costwold Chocolate Shop opposite, not to mention the toy shop, Clarkes electricians, the excellent Lambourne’s butchers or the Cotswold Cheese Shop, the shoe shop and Hampton’s delicatessen. Digbeth Street has it all – except the excellent Le Pattisier Anglais in the square in Stow! 7 days 8.30 (9 Sat and Sun) – 5. www.newenglandcoffeehouse.com
Indian, Moreton: *The Spice Room, 3 Oxford Street, Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 0LA (3 miles) 01608-654204: the best Indian cooking in Moreton – and generous portions but perhaps not the cheapest. Take away available. No website currently.
Sitara indian restaurant in the High Street next door to the Manor House Hotel has not been tested.
Indian, Moreton: *Hassan Balti, High Street, Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 1AQ (3 miles) 01608-650798. This is good, basic Indian cooking. Take away available. www.hassanbalti.co.uk
Indian, Stow: *The Prince of India, 5 Park Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AQ (2 miles) 01451-830099. Mixed reviews.
Chinese, Stow: Jade Garden, 15 Park Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 0AQ (2 miles) 01451-870288
Thai, Malay, etc. Chipping Norton: Thai Shire, 7 Horse Fair, Chipping Norton, OX7 5AL (9 miles) 01608-645888. Some very good reports (September 2017) of a good Thai (with Chinese influence) meals and a pleasant Cotswold stone ambience. Take Aways available.
Greedy’s Fish and Chips, Park Street, Stow-on-the-Wold, GL54 1AQ (2 miles) 01451-870821.
*Ask Italian (pizza), High Street, Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 0AX (3 miles) 01608-651119. 7 days 12 Noon – 11 p.m. Run of the mill but OK.
*Osteria on the Wold (Italian), Stow on the Wold has had terrible reports recently.