When it comes to the UK’s best restaurants and pubs, the capital has long held the title for being home to the very best of them. But while there’s no denying that you’ll find some impressive options to choose from when visiting the big smoke, sometimes, it’s the little countryside establishments and their commitment to tradition that really blow you away.
The Cotswolds are perhaps one of the prettiest destinations for a staycation in England, and cover a huge, 800-square-mile area spanning the counties of Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Worcestershire and of course, Oxfordshire. And nestled at the heart of the latter, less than four miles from Burford, the historic Wychwood Inn can be found in the picturesque village of Shipton-under-Wychwood.
This award-winning country inn has won itself a legion of loyal fans within the local area over recent years, but these days, customers travel from much further afield to sample its tasty fare. In fact, the inn is widely recognised as one of the best restaurants in all of Oxfordshire – which is quite an honour, when you consider the competition.
Owned by mother and son duo Tracey and Paul Hunt, this family-run business has certainly made a name for itself in foodie circles, having received the prestigious AA Dinner Award and four-star AA Silver Award for the past four years running. With head chef Joe McCarthy at the helm in the kitchen, the inn has repositioned itself as a foodie destination that is well worth going out of your way for – and with five rooms for short breaks away and an inviting, traditional, and quintessentially British feel, it certainly ticks all of the right boxes for a luxurious countryside getaway.
A haven for foodies
Having undertaken an apprenticeship at the renowned Lords of the Manor in Upper Slaughter while training at Gloucestershire College in Cheltenham, Joe has since worked at a number of high-profile and highly sought-after restaurants across the Cotswolds and has been successfully running the kitchen at the Wychwood Inn, where he manages a small team of talented chefs, for the past seven years. And both his menu, and his guidance and expertise, certainly seem to be doing the trick.
Today, customers travel far and wide to find this quaint Cotswolds’ hideaway – and with a sumptuous menu on offer throughout the year, there’s always something new to try to keep them coming back for more.
Visitors to the pub can expect a choice of comforting, traditional fare – with some of its most popular dishes including pub classics like the steak and ale pie, beer battered fish and chips and pan-seared pigeon breast.
Those who like to share can opt for decadent platters like the baked camembert or salt pig charcuterie board, while on Sundays, the inn’s much-loved roasts with all the trimmings are a must-try. And don’t be fooled by the basket meals on offer, as although these are another traditional choice, they come with a decidedly modern twist. Choose from spiced bread-crumbed chicken wings, Coca-Cola pulled pork, deep-fried scampi, or barbecue brisket for a mouth-watering take on some old favourites.
If, after all that decadence, you’ve got room for something sweet, then the desserts menu certainly won’t disappoint, with the sticky toffee pudding, chocolate brownie and warm apple pie all stand-out choices. But while the menu is ever-changing, Joe’s famous parfait, which comprises different fruits to reflect the current season depending on the time of year, is an unwavering inclusion that has won him much praise – so if you pick just one dessert to sample, then make sure it’s this.
A quaint Cotswolds’ hideaway
Centred around a roaring log fire that creates a cosy atmosphere that’s all the more welcoming during these chilly winter months, it’s not just the Wychwood Inn’s food that has won it such a loyal following. The dog-friendly bar area comprises comfortable seating and lots of traditional accents, and after a long evening of eating and drinking, guests can simply head upstairs to one of the five luxuriously appointed en-suite rooms to get some shut-eye.
The perfect place to stay if you’re keen to explore the sprawling countryside of the Cotswolds, beds feature sumptuous Sealy mattresses and colour palettes are modern and stylish. Each with their own unique personality, one of the rooms even comes complete with an impressive four poster bed, making it the perfect choice for a romantic weekend or midweek break.
In all rooms, you’ll find a flat screen TV and a reliable Wi-Fi connection. Toiletries, tea and coffee, fresh milk, and water all in plentiful supply. But it’s the other little luxuries – often unexpected – that really make for a memorable stay. The homemade flapjacks left for you to enjoy with your hot drinks make for a thoughtful and welcoming touch and are very much a sign of things to come.
If you’re looking for things to do nearby, then you certainly won’t have much trouble finding them. The Wychwood Inn enjoys a privileged location close to Blenheim Palace, the Cotswold Wildlife Park, and the historic university city of Oxford.
To celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee this summer, the pub will be hosting a picnic in the garden, with specially prepared hampers full of scrumptious food and drink items to see you through the occasion in style. Providing the perfect opportunity and setting in which to relax and enjoy the celebrations, on a large outdoor screen, the event is expected to be a highlight of the summer calendar for locals.
To reserve a table or accommodation at the Wychwood Inn, please visit thewychwoodinn.com or telephone 01993 831185.
Address: Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire OX7 6BA
Phone: 01993 831185