News that the brilliant trio behind Five Little Pigs in Wallingford was opening The Bear in North Moreton sent us all into spasms of excitement.
Because not only is it epic, reinventing the cafe/restaurant hybrid with some wonderful and refreshing food, but it also meant that the 16th century pub was being saved and rejuvenated, which in the current climate can only be admired. read about it here
Having only been open a few days, we hotfooted it over to the South Oxfordshire village to try head chef Aimee Hunt’s menu, and to see how it’s been angled. Would The Bear just be a bigger version of Five Little Pigs or stand alone on its own historic legs?
“COMFORT FOOD AT ITS BEST”
The latter is certainly the case, the welcoming log fires, locals lining the bar, Christmas decorations adorning the ancient walls and a much more traditional menu on hand for the avid and curious diners, setting the scene.
The best thing is that the menu doesn’t scream gastropub. It’s not grand, pretentious or overly priced which is so appealing, and yet caters for every eventuality – you can choose from a no-holds-barred lunch, bar snack options, or more of a more sedate affair. Comfort food at its best.
So whether you want ham, egg and chips, root vegetable casserole with cider and dumplings, fish pie or The Bear burger, it’s all ready and waiting, without a jus, puree or fondant to be seen.
the piece de resistance was the Hollygog pudding, the recipe found and revived by Aimee herself. You can imagine the Tudors tucking in with equal gusto
And it was busy already which is a great sign.
We didn’t get past the starter menu in the end, too much good stuff to try – a dense parsnip and apple soup of the day arriving with a dab of cream, sprinkled roasted chestnuts and a delicious rye bread.
The cured trout (£9) was stunningly flavoured and beautiful in its simplicity. And who could resist the posh sausage roll, as recommended by our waiter and served with its own pot of Colman’s mustard. All we needed was a flat cap and whippet and we’d have been in our element!
All we needed was a flat cap and whippet and we’d have been in our element!
The Welsh rarebit (£6.50) was another must; suppliers, seasonality and locality being of primary importance here, and the relationship with Nettlebed Creamery well known. Again it could have been eaten with a pint of ale at the bar – just what we wanted on a cold December lunchtime.
But the piece de resistance had to be the Hollygog pudding (£6), the recipe found and revived by Aimee herself. It was hugely suitable and unmistakably British in its heartfelt stodginess, with a scone like consistency and that tang of baking powder, which only works with lashings of custard.
You can imagine the Tudors tucking in with equal gusto.
I don’t know what I loved the most, this inspiring young team saving their local pub, the food or its lack of airs and graces. Either way it’s a win win for North Moreton and those willing to travel from near and far, and Rob, Sam and Aimee deserve to not only succeed but be supported.
The Bear, North Moreton https://www.thebearofnorthmoreton.co.uk/the-local-area