Hare and Hounds
a picture-perfect pastoral paradise without the stress of a long drive from the city centre
Depending on which direction you’re going in, the Hare and Hounds is either the first decent pub/restaurant you encounter as you arrive in Bath, or the last outpost you pass as you leave the city via the northerly Lansdown slopes. But there’s far more to this imposing 18th century inn than a convenient prandial refuelling spot.
For starters (pardon the pun), this glorious pub is part of the triumphant triumvirate headed up by Joe Cussens and Justin Sleath, the duo also responsible for the award-winning Marlborough Tavern, the foodie-fabulous Chequers and the lush little canal-side paradise The Locksbrook Inn – and those in the know already know how solidly, reliably good a Joe’n’Justin venture is. But even if such insider knowledge means absolutely nothing to you, the H&H is a fabulous place to start developing your education.
This handsome, spacious, characterful hangout offers swoonsome views across the hills, vales and hamlets to the north and east of Bath, with rolling lawns, split-level patios and huge picture windows from which to digest such scenery turning it into a picture-perfect pastoral paradise without the stress of a long drive from the city centre.
On the food front, the kitchen opens for breakfast from 8.30am before merrily rolling along through lunchtime and dinner service, offering menus that push local sourcing and seasonality to the fore whether you’re looking for cosy comfort food (we love the fact that, on our most recent visit, there were braised faggots on the Pub Classics menu alongside gammon, egg and chips and the Hare’s legendarily fabulous beer-battered fish’n’chips) or just an impromptu, upmarket “drink’s too wet without one” bar bite nibble (if you’re craving proper pork scratchings, you’ve come to the right place.) When the sun comes out to play, ordering a Sharing Board to graze on at a table in the garden has to be the ultimate, fuss-free impromptu picnic, while a certain Pig Guide person has been known to be bribed to walk all the way up t’hill from Bath city centre on the promise of effort-compensation courtesy of a smoked cheddar-topped burger (when burgers are this good, they’re well worth getting a wiggle on for.) But on our most recent foray, we did the ‘conventional’ 3-course dinner thing… and it turned out to be a far from commonplace experience indeed.
I’ve got a ‘thing’ about croquettes at the mo – I just can’t get enough of those utterly moreish, promisingly plump little orbs of deliciousness… and the H&H version (sweet, sumptuous globules of crab and hake supplemented with roasted red peppers and served with a velvety-smooth almond sauce) have hereby raced to the top of my Coolest Croquette charts. Having said that, the fritter fabulosity (venison and black pudding, beautifully presented and nicely complemented by a luscious quince puree and a vibrant kohlrabi and Granny Smith apple salad) going on across the table represented a champion starter in its own right. Win/Win? Yes indeed; classic combinations livened up by a smart, contemporary makeover – there’s nothing not to love about that.
Our main courses crooned along to a similar beat. The seafood fettuccine from the Specials menu was very special indeed: massive fresh mussels, super-fresh fish and the most flavoursome little prawns I’ve encountered in a very long time, all muddled together with just the right amount of chilli, whole cherry tomatoes that popped on the tongue and silky strands of pasta – lovely. Meanwhile, a muscular but moist fillet of sea trout – similar to salmon, but more subtly fishy and, in this instance, almost creamy – served with an intelligently-curated melange of clams, samphire, cauliflower puree, leeks and soft, soft potatoes all back-lit by a tingle of tarragon proved to be a heavenly combination.
For our third course, we opted to share a sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and honeycomb ice cream (seriously, piggies: do not overlook this pud!) and a cheese selection that brought the very best of the locally-sourced line-up together on one very generous platter.
Prices for a semi-bucolic blowout such as ours guarantees welcome solace for the bank account as well as the soul (starters circa £5.50-£7.50; mains from around £13; puds from £6, with mini-desserts for £3.50), while little people get their own little menu and on Sundays, H&H roasts have deservedly earned this glorious chill-out zone myriad local awards.
Go on, take to the hills; there’s foodie gold waiting for you when you reach the summit.
- Free wifi available ,
- Dog friendly ,
- Gluten free options ,
- Baby changing facilities
Food served: breakfast Monday-Friday 8.30-11am, Saturday 9-11am, Sunday 9-10.45am. Lunch Monday-Saturday 12noon-3pm. Dinner Monday-Saturday 5.30-11pm. Sunday lunch 12noon-4pm, dinner 6-8pm. Children's Menu served lunch & dinner every day.
Lansdown Road Bath BA1 5TJ