The Hare at Milton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire
It is always very encouraging to come across a pub which is thriving within its local community during these very difficult times for the pub & hospitality sector. I was invited along to The Hare at Milton-under-Wychwood which is on the Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire border within the ‘golden’ triangle of Burford, Chipping Norton & Stow-on-the-Wold within the Cotswolds AONB. The village is about 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Burford, Oxfordshire, just off the A361 road between Burford and Chipping Norton.
Originally called, `The Quart Pot’ it was a long-standing community pub doing business under the stewardship of Greene King Brewery, until its closure in 2010 after which the brewery sold the pub to some property developers from Bournemouth who quickly applied for planning permission to turn the pub into a house. Local residents waged a long campaign for it to remain as a pub & it was soon listed as a community asset and in 2012 West Oxfordshire District Council refused to grant them planning permission.
As a result the pub was empty for five years but eventually two local entrepreneurs (Sue & Rachel Hawkins) bought the pub in 2015, renovated the building and in March 2016 reopened it as The Hare. In 2021 The Hare was taken over by experienced hospitality operators Matt & Katie Beamish who had three years earlier acquired the nearby Kingham Plough.
Matt & Katie share a genuine passion for great food, hospitality, and an instinctive devotion to detail. They quickly set about sympathetically renovating & restoring all of the Hare’s interior spaces and its outside rear terrace, whilst enriching its many unique features to create several delightful and stylish interior spaces in which to drink and dine.
Katie has an obvious flair for interior design, so she is principally responsible for much of the interior decorating and furnishings. The pair also landscaped the extensive rear garden creating an appealing area of seating & tables for that very important al fresco dining. Car parking was also provided at the rear for about five or six cars.
As my wife & I entered The Hare we were warmly welcomed by the manager who had been at The Hare for two years. He is an efficient, sociable & seasoned professional, nothing was too much trouble for him, which was really appreciated. All of the staff in the pub delivered a very high quality service throughout our visit. The Manager also took the time to engage with my wife and I in short bouts of genuine conversation.
The Hare is a very popular pub & restaurant with both locals & visitors from outside the village. Whilst enjoying our meal I noticed a number of people coming in off the street, not only to eat in the restaurant but to sit and enjoy a drink with friends. It is obviously still very much a local for the village community as well as a fine pub restaurant. It is also a very popular pub for visitors with their canine friends! I saw several dogs leading their owners from in off the street! Our four-legged friends are always welcome at The Hare!
In the snug, low-ceilinged bar area, there was a well-stocked selection of craft ales & local beers and staff are also able to provide skilfully prepared cocktails. The wine list offered a wide range of fine international wines available by the glass or bottle. Whether you are looking for a suitable drink to pair with a meal or just relaxing next to the fireside or outside on the sunny terrace, there is something for everyone. Children are not allowed in the bar but are welcome in the dining room.
The Hare has built up a compelling reputation over several years for its seafood. In the kitchen, Head chef, Matt Dare, who is originally from Cornwall, takes his fish very seriously and has continued the Hare’s long-established repute for its excellent, daily changing, seafood specials board which features fresh daily seafood deliveries from Devon.
The Seafood Specials board is swollen with the freshest fish & seafood from the fisherfolk of Devon and Cornwall. The Hares main supplier, Flying Fish Seafoods, a company that cares passionately not only about the quality of fish they supply to their customers, but also how responsibly they source the fish. They follow the very highest industry practices to protect our current rich & ample seafood stocks. On the day I visited the choice was extensive, St Austell Bay Deep Sea Mussels, Perran Sands Cornish Crab, Smoked Salmon, Grilled Mackerel, Whole Grilled Cornish Plaice or Line Caught Cod.
There’s also a good value for money, weekly changing, seasonally-focused a la carte menu, featuring produce from specialist local suppliers to create several pub classics & an all-day bar snack menu, Sunday roasts & of course a children’s menu.
The menu is modern-British with a Mediterranean touch. Head Chef Matt Dare & his team are passionate about sourcing only the very best seasonal ingredients & making them into enjoyable dishes. Everything on the menu is made in-house with the exception of the wonderfully tasty sourdough which comes from a local bakery, Mark’s Cotswold Bakery.
S T A R T E R S
Old Spot scotch egg, mustard mayo
Bright orange yolk – extremely tasty sausage meat & egg – a perfectly prepared scotch egg – the Mustard mayo was the perfect accompaniment for the egg – an excellent starter!
‘ Salt pig’ charcuterie board, Marcona almonds, olives, cornichons, sourdough
A large board – warm freshly baked sourdough bread with large green olives & cornichons
M A I N S
Slow cooked lamb shoulder pie, mash, tomato, thyme & leek
The thyme & leek sauce was very flavoursome and pulled pork cooked to perfection – the flaky lid & bowl pastry crust of the pie was delicious
Aged Paddock farm flat iron steak, fries. bearnaise sauce, watercress
The watercress appeared quite salty but when eaten with the steak it was very good – steak was cooked rare to medium as requested – nicely warmed plate – the Bearnaise sauce was excellent
Warm Treacle tart & clotted cream ice cream
I love treacle tart, what more do I need to say?
Iced White Chocolate & praline parfait, chocolate soil & toffee sauce.
Delicious, delicious & delicious. Curtain down!
Glass of Wine: Uco Val ley Mendoza, Malbec, Argentina
Glass of Beer: Hooky, Hook Norton
Cappuccino & Mocha to finish
Kingsdown Water – A taste of Spring – On table
All of the food was excellent. I must admit to trying some of my wife’s meal and can vouch that both dishes were beautifully cooked and professionally presented to table.
Handpumps at the bar:
Hook Norton (Hooky) – Timothy Taylor (Knowle Spring) – Vale Brewery (Gravitas)
Birra Moretti (L,Autentica) – Guinness (Extra Cold) – Cotswold Pale – Madri Excepcional –
Soft rock & pop music at an acceptable level playing in the background – a selection of framed Ordnance Survey maps on the wall – A beautiful print of Young Hare drawing by Albrecht Dürer – various other rural & rustic prints of animals (horses, cattle & sheep)
The Hare is a fine example of an old English village pub with loads of character, where the community comes together, and visitors are made to feel very welcome. You can grab a simple snack or stay and linger over a sumptuous meal in the restaurant area.
For tasty food, quality ales & fine wines in a local friendly pub atmosphere, The Hare is a smart choice. A great local village pub & restaurant! By providing such excellent quality food and drink combined with the warm, friendly hospitality, this classic village pub is sure to win many awards for its food and hospitality over the next couple of years.
It certainly comes highly recommended from me!
The Hare at Milton
3 High Street
Disclosure: My visit was courtesy of The Hare at Milton-under-Wychwood & Bridget Stott PR
The views and comments expressed are as usual my own.