Self proclaimed as a restaurant with rooms, The Pig near Bath, housed within a striking country mansion, offers diners ingredients either grown in the extensive kitchen garden, or sourced from a strict 25 mile radius, a commitment most kitchens struggle to fulfil or like to ram down your throat in a sanctimonious fashion that makes you want to run a mile. None of that here. Even if you aren’t ‘green’ in the slightest and still proudly buy all your shopping in wantonly destructive black plastic packages, you’ll appreciate the hippy atmosphere and chilled ‘make-yourself-at-home’ concept.
The Pig restaurant and hotel collection, who currently have five properties with more on the way, each has its own unique vibe with a team who are understandably proud of their reputation for growing and serving the finest organic ingredients. And it’s well worth arriving for lunch or dinner in plenty of time to explore the bountiful fruit and vegetable plots in the summer months, a joy to see regardless of whether or not you’re green fingered. If you’re not, it may just inspire you to get digging.
The kitchen is presided over by Chef James Golding and Head Chef Kamil Oseka who have designed a colourful, seasonal menu (the online sample of which is merely a shadow of its actual bursting self due to its ever evolving nature) including a ‘Mostly Picked This Morning’ section. A who’s who of lovingly nurtured vegetable varieties and talented British producers, the ingredients could only be done justice by the kind of fresh, exciting flavours and unpretentious cookery you’ll find here and which fits hand in hand with this spectacularly beautiful corner of the South West, just a twenty minute drive from the centre of Bath but a whole universe away from city life.
The restaurant itself is a trendy potting shed style affair with plants on the tables, eclectic vintage crockery and a large conservatory overlooking the grounds. I hardly know whether I prefer The Pig in winter, when the appealing bar and lounge areas with log fires come into their own, or the summer months when we have the pleasure of dining alfresco with our four legged friend in the garden, bordered by undulating fields as far as the eye can see and celebrated by a terrace that’s popular every day of the week. The Pig is where I want to be all year round, as summer or winter this place is charm personified, as are the happy go lucky staff in jeans and sneakers.
On this occasion we were dining alfresco and needed something suitably refreshing. As a Margarita lover who rarely braves a new cocktail, I was delighted by The Pig’s signature ramped up version featuring coriander and chilli straight from the kitchen garden, not to mention their incredible home smoked salt on the rim. The accompanying piggy popcorn and random assortment of colourful and tactile vintage glassware adds to the cocktail experience as, like Forest Gump, you never know what you’re gonna get. The wine list is meanwhile extensive and features everything from prestigious vintages to vibrant young wines ready for the taking.
Pork lovers are in the right place surprise, surprise and will enjoy feasting on the piggy sharing board starters (they were kind enough to adapt mine into gluten free) with divine pork crackling shards served with a home-made apple sauce, delectable BBQ glazed pork belly cubes, ham hock scotch eggs & Colman’s mustard, and potted salmon and pea hummus. We pigged out so much it’s a wonder we managed another three courses, but the atmosphere is one of pleasure not restraint. I was impressed by the starter of Bridgestone English burrata, with Cheddar strawberries and hazelnuts; the cool, sumptuous cheese perfectly balanced with the acidity of the fruit and a touch of balsamic. For main we shared the Woolley Park Farm duck for two, with breast, faggot, crispy leg and a dark and smoky XO-style sauce, kohlrabi slaw and a side of crispy tobacco onions.
Dessert featured a selection of The Pig’s most popular sweet treats including a giggle inducing wibbly wobbly elderflower jelly topped with a heady Chase gin and tonic sorbet, baked Alaska with a lemon verbena ice cream and lemon curd, and a (gluten free) ‘Heavenly Hedgerow’ honey and almond cake with poached garden rhubarb and crème fraiche. Naturally, you may find yourself too well fed for pud, in which case the Espresso Martini comes recommended; Chase vodka, Expre Coffee Liqueur & Bristol’s Own Extract Espresso (for wimps like me, they’ll even do a decaff version). If you celebrate a birthday here they will be sure to bring you a pig shaped biscuit; little touches that illustrate the thought that has gone behind making The Pig an experience you’ll want to repeat time and again. If, like us, you have a Pig outpost on your doorstep you’ll already know how lucky you are.
The Pig near Bath, Hunstrete House, Hunstrete, Pensford, Bath BS39 4NS. For more information and to book please visit the website.