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Part of the historic Hatton Estate, this proudly independent restaurant & pub is situated on the Birmingham Road and boasts magnificent views of the surrounding Warwickshire countryside and Grand Union Canal.
Illuminated like a beacon beckoning you off the nearby highway, a sense of history pervades as you step across the threshold, passing beneath the centuries-old crest into the warm embrace of the cosy bar.
Eclectic yet in every way in-keeping with the pub’s 180-year history, low- hanging oak beams, stunning inglenook fire places, intimate wood-panelled corner booths and original stonework marry effortlessly with quirky contemporary flourishes including signature lampshades of varying designs, nautical- themed statement walls channelling The Hatton’s canalside heritage, accent cushions in burnished orange & turquoise and an intriguing line in cultural curiosities, from up- cycled boating oars to 18th-century coach wheels. A feast for the eyes in every sense!
Entering the newly refurbished restaurant area - a beautifully light, bright space brimming with character and packed out with expectant diners - a brief glance at the menu revealed an equally detailed and loving approach to locally sourced ingredients, from the award- winning Oxfordshire beef to the freshly made artisan bread delivered from nearby Stratford- upon-Avon each morning.
Seasonal specials included grilled south coast mackerel served with beetroot & horseradish crème fraiche, pan- roasted sea trout fillet served with spinach and samphire risotto, crispy ham and lobster butter sauce, and - my personal favourite - duo of spring lamb served with buttered maris piper potatoes, onion puree, crushed peas, red wine jus and salsa verde.
For lovers of a ‘pub classic’, there was no shortage of appetising options, from tried- and-tested favourites such as ‘bangers & mash’ and ‘handmade pie’ to chargrilled ‘chuck steak’ burgers and 28-day dry-aged Oxfordshire beef steaks.
Surveying our options, a taster plate of starters arrived. Deliciously moreish and much too good to share, highlights included the leeky Welsh rarebit served on sourdough bread, a melt-in-the-mouth marriage of
cheddar cheese, fresh leeks and a hint of English mustard. The Devon crab and avocado toast with gruyere crouton was, likewise, not only exceptionally fresh but surprisingly light, despite the generous portion size. By far my favourite of the three, however, was the air-dried British beef served with watercress, parmesan shavings and truffle oil - a masterclass in quality.
For a taste of the East, my partner’s choice of the spicy Thai seafood broth special was somewhat lacking in punch but a great choice for the calorie- conscious. And for those seeking a classic starter executed to perfection, you can’t go wrong with the chicken liver pate with plum chutney and toasted sourdough.
Channelling my historic surroundings, the prospect of a main course of grilled Wellesbourne venison haunch was just too good to resist. Served ‘field to fork’ on a bed of root vegetable dauphinoise with fresh tender-stem broccoli, beetroot jam and game jus, the venison was cooked to absolute perfection.
Its rich, earthy flavour was complemented beautifully by the sweetness of the beetroot jam and subtle fruit flavours of the game-jus. The broccoli, too, was perfectly executed, and cooked just the right side of picante: a fantastic example of great seasonal produce cooked with care and precision.
My partner’s choice of pan-fried sea bass fillets served with Bombay potatoes, cucumber raita, Indian salad and curry oil was not only a refreshing addition to the menu but a fantastic example of The Hatton Arms’ creative yet considered approach to great flavour combinations.
A brief glance over the dessert menu revealed plenty to tempt us back for a second sitting,
including a delicious line in locally sourced cheeses, as well as the ever-popular chocolate brownie served with vanilla ice cream, Baileys crème brulee and - in homage to homegrown, seasonal, British produce - rhubarb & ginger trifle served with fresh cream and custard.
Add to this a popular Sunday menu featuring a choice of meat and vegetarian roasts, all-day Fizz Friday promotions on Prosecco, and a regular programme of special events to enjoy with friends and family, and you have the perfect excuse to escape to the country.
Since closing its doors to the public in January to undergo an extensive refurbishment project, this popular 18th-century free house turned 21st-century pub has been the hot topic on the lips of Warwickshire foodies.
Newly open for business, complete with stylish exterior porch extension and outdoor terrace area, a full refresh of its interior décor, updated menu and newly extended dining hours, the ‘new and improved’ Hatton Arms is, in every way, worth the hype.
Marrying old and new, style and substance, innovation and tradition, this roadside revelation has remained true to its historic roots whilst also moving with the times to deliver its own wholly unique take on seasonal produce, sourced locally where possible and served up with an extra helping of traditional Warwickshire hospitality.
**** Katherine Ewings
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