The Cotswolds is your Downton Abbey dreams come to life. The picturesque villages with pretty cottages and beautiful estates look like the backdrops to the popular BBC series. Not surprisingly, it’s a popular secondary residence for any British celebrity you could possibly think of–Kate Moss, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, etc. With lots of money to throw around, there are a number of posh restaurants in the area where you can eat fancy pub food in glamorous country dining halls. Normally high-end dining and young children don’t mix, but at The Wild Rabbit, a beautiful British inn owned by woman–a noblewoman, of course–named Lady Carole Bamford, “well-behaved children of any age” are welcome, and they even offered a children’s menu at the restaurant. I was beyond excited by the idea that I could bring my babies to a nice tasting meal at a Michelin caliber restaurant, because how often is that even possible or allowed? I immediately booked The Wild Rabbit lunch tasting for the 5 of us.
It turns out just because you can bring your children to a tasting meal doesn’t mean you should. I know that sounds like common sense, because what toddler can hold it together for a 3 hour meal, but at the time, I was too excited to even think about the details. It turns out a lot of other moms and dads had the same idea, because there were at least four young children in The Wild Rabbit dining room at lunch. One mother was even nursing her child at the table and no one blinked an eye. Were all of them well-behaved? For the most part, yes. Each child had his or her moment, but the parents were pretty proactive about taking care of the situation. It’s hard to be uptight when you’re eating fancy, seasonal food, probably all locally procured from Lady Carole Bamford’s Daylesford farm, around pretty people in nice surroundings.
I couldn’t pay attention as closely as I wanted to the food because I had to distract my 22 month old son from how long the meal was taking. A lot of bites were interspersed with refreshing the button on my phone so he could watch Teletubbies or Little Baby Bum. But I do remember that the classic English dishes were very well done. The cornish cod and the Wootton Estate lamb were among the strongest in the tasting.
When The Wild Rabbit tried to get a little more experimental, however, like when they put some kimchee-like seasonings in the Daylesford market garden salad, things went horribly wrong. Luckily it was just this one isolated incident where I thought something tasted very odd. The gazpacho soup had a sweet, tart flavor from the tomatoes, and was also another strong dish in the tasting.
If I had to do it all over again, I would still bring the children, but I would stick to the a la carte options. The entire Wild Rabbit tasting menu took over 2 hours to complete, and even I as an adult was getting a little exhausted. There weren’t even that many courses in the tasting, 3 appetizers, 2 mains and 2 desserts, but I guess things are just a little slower out in the country. When you’re a lady of leisure like Lady Carole or Lady Mary, you have all the time in the world.
The Wild Rabbit
Kingham, Costwolds, England
Church St, Kingham, Chipping Norton OX7 6YA, United Kingdom
+44 1608 658389