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The British pub has been in vogue for quite some time. Two-Michelin-starred Simon Rogan and Brett Graham have one each, and Heston Blumenthal has two – in fact, a boozer seems to be one of the must-haves in the culinary portfolio of today’s chefs and restaurateurs. Here are this month’s eye-catching acquisitions.
Following in the wake of her smash-hit Daylesford Organic shop and café (in Gloucestershire and London), Carole Bamford has picked a country pub for her latest venture. Hailed as ‘the poshest watering hole in Britain’, The Wild Rabbit may be grander than your average inn, and it’s set to become a rival to the nearby Kingham Plough when it comes to capturing the affections of the Chipping Norton set and the (Kate) Moss posse. It also boasts open fires, real ales, Josper-grilled steaks and 12 impressive bedrooms.
In Surrey, Joel Cadbury (former Groucho Club owner and heir to the Cadbury chocolate dynasty) has added another country inn to his small, high-quality restaurant and inn chain. Like all branches of Bel and the Dragon, this beautifully restored, winningly convivial Surrey outpost has its own character and style, while 13 fresh, light bedrooms make it a chic, unpretentious weekend retreat not too far from London.
Also living the county pub dream is Paul Cunliffe, previously head chef at Harvey Nichols in Leeds, who has turned what was an old village boozer in the Vale of York into The Dunsforth – a modern bistro-style pub combing a casual bucolic vibe with simple, classy cooking.
And it’s all change in Kent. The Sportsman’s younger sibling, The Granville in Lower Hardres, has appointed David Hart to take over the kitchen – a move that has local money betting on the roadside inn becoming as much an institution as its Michelin-starred big brother. Meanwhile, The Granville’s previous head chef, Jim Shave, has moved to the nearby Duck Inn at Pett Bottom to revive the fortunes of a run-down rural boozer that has traded too long on its James Bond connection –the pub was Ian Fleming’s local. Watch this space.
The award for best in show, however, may just go to The Star Inn the City. This second venue from Yorkshire chef Andrew Pern (pictured, right) is a louche metropolitan answer to the acclaimed Star Inn at Harome. Set to launch on 22 October, the new venue is pitched in the converted engine house attached to York’s Museum Gardens (pictured, top right), complete with a purpose-built glass extension and views of the river Ouse – a prospect that is ‘looking gorgeous’, according to local spies. And with 3,500 bookings already in the bag, it seems set to be one big hit.