The view alone is worth the trip, the peace and tranquillity, the birdsong, the incredible food, top service and gastropub onus, all warrant a visit to The Feathered Nest in Nether Westcote.
Situated on the Oxfordshire border in the Cotswolds, far from the madding crowds, news that Matt Weedon was running the kitchens was reason enough to pop over for lunch. He ran The Lamb in Crawley wonderfully before moving onto The Lords of The Manor and is a mighty fine chef.
Kuba Winskowski, another excellent chef, ran the kitchens until leaving just before lockdown, and while big boots to fill, Matt has reconfigured the menu under new owner Adam Taylor.
Still a genteel but relaxing place, Adam and Matt wanted to make it more accessible, so while still gastro-strength, there are some simpler dishes to appeal to all palates, alongside some delicious sounding bar snacks.
We waded in at the deep end however, knowing what Matt is capable of, and weren’t disappointed. As soon as the amuse bouche of a red pepper and pesto tapenade with focaccia fingers was placed in front of us, rich in flavour and seeds, we knew we were in for an treat.
Choosing one meat and one plant-based menu, we picked the white gazpacho soup with green olive focaccia to start, which had an almost fruity kick, a wonderful adaption of the traditionally cold, garlicky tomato soup, and the sea bream ceviche (£16) which was so delicate and carefully laid out on the plate it nearly brought a tear to the eye.
Bursting with flavour, the fish was more like a tartare, rather than overly marinated in traditional lemon juice, allowing the flavours to soar from smoky to sweet. Hugely accomplished.
Then some of the Wye Valley asparagus with celeriac remoulade and hazelnuts, which was so tasty, the asparagus perfectly al dente, the crunch of the nut bringing it all together. I could have eaten the remoulade in a bowl with a spoon. Very memorable, and the perfect dish to enjoy looking out over the stunning countryside in the sunshine.
More fish to follow as the rays warmed us in the beautiful courtyard area, this time the steamed halibut from Gigha with confit chicken, lemon thyme, caramel leeks, mushrooms, spring white truffle and chicken butter sauce (£35), which is terribly trendy at the moment. The thinnest crispy skin topped a beautiful piece of gleaming white fish surrounded by the confit chicken and shredded leeks with tarragon, a really clever dish, which tasted as good as it smelled.
The chargrilled fennel with kohlrabi, Granny Smith apple, grapes and endive from the plant based menu was interesting but didn’t match the complexity of the meat option. More vegetarian options would have been advisable, although there were numerous starters available.
Pudding was avocado with cocoa, blood orange and passion fruit which was sharp and refreshing with a rich smudge of chocolate to accompany each mouthful, and then the carrot cake sandwich, which was light and gingery, reminiscent of a gingerbread man.
The ambitious cheese board and coloured crackers, was the perfect finale, although we still managed coffee and macaroons before reluctantly relinquishing our table.
We’d been there for so long the shadows were drawing in, but what a way to wile away an afternoon.
Sunday lunches are big there and in the evenings, alongside the standard menu, there is also a six course tasting menu.
Really impressive, highly memorable and expertly executed, The Feathered Nest deserves a visit. Views and food of this calibre are rare.
The Feathered Nest, Nether Westcote, https://thefeatherednestinn.co.uk/cotswolds-restaurant/