Ever since opening their doors last year (read about it here) Five Little Pigs in Wallingford has been flying. Nominated for numerous awards in the Ox In A Box Food Awards, they were also reviewed by the Observer’s Jay Rayner who couldn’t believe his luck.
It’s an unassuming place on a busy road in Wallingford with a cafe-style front and a banquette style restaurant at the back. But what singles it out is not only its notoriety, and its admirable ethos of sustainability, seasonality and locality, but its consistently inventive and exciting food.
Let’s take the perfunctory sounding toastie of the day (£10). The cheese (a mix of Bix and Highmoor) was from Nettlebed Creamery complete with local, seasonal plums on wedges of toasted bread from The Real Orange Bakery in Watlington, more like a brioche with that light, sweet taste. It came with a piquant pickled carrot salad and dressed local leaves no doubt from The Clays in Warborough.
The cheese was soft and gooey, contrasting with the tart sweetness and bite of the plum and the slight acidity of the carrots. So simple but so effective when all the right elements come together. And that was just the sandwich….
Timing it carefully to allow us to sample both the brunch and lunch menus, and then really going to town, even our lovely waitress was surprised by our strange pick-and-mix ordering system as well as our ability to pack away food.
But why not when you can have the soft egg kedgeree (£9.50) from the brunch menu with local perfectly cooked free range eggs, just the right level of Indian seasoning, soft flaky sustainably sourced smoked haddock, a succulent sauce and saffron rice. Oh it was sensational. That was breakfast sorted.
Then onto lunch – for starters the sweetcorn fritters (£7) which I’d been eyeing up on Instagram which came with a tomato jam and corn ash, the little crispy but soft, seasoned nuggets continuing to make my day.
And then the charred heirloom courgette with warm butter beans and black olives which was clean, textured, seasonal, and zinging with freshness. (£15)
But the piece de resistance was saved until last. It sounded amazing rhubarb bakewell tart with a blackcurrant leaf ice cream and almonds (£7), but tasted even better. The base was dense, soft and a bit chewy, then the silky notes of rhubarb, and the almond filling accentuated by the ice cream.
And in every bite, it’s evident how passionate the Five Little Pigs’ founders still are; Amy in the kitchen and the two boys wheeling crates of wine in and serving the customers on our lunchtime visit.
So go, book a table or turn up for brunch. The food is sublime, the coffee excellent, service is slick and friendly, the veggie and vegan offerings plentiful. In short, they care and it shows in every last mouthful.
Five Little Pigs is at 26 St Mary’s Street, Wallingford. OX10 0ET. https://www.fivelittlepigs.co.uk