I am most definitely late to the party where The Pig Restaurant with Rooms, near Bath, is concerned. When I last visited, it was in its previous incarnation as Hunstrete House country house hotel. What I remember from that visit was the impressive building, the smattering of chintz within and the very moreish canapes. Reinvented a few years ago as part of a small chain of Pigs owned by the Lime Wood Group, my visit was long overdue.
The house still looks like Elizabeth Bennett and sisters could come waltzing out on their way to Regency Bath. Inside however, it’s a different story. Banished are the chintzy furnishings, replaced with a style that they call homely luxury which sums it up perfectly. Squishy sofas, log fires, flagstone floors and plenty of places to plonk yourself down for an afternoon with the Sunday papers.
We took the kids for Sunday lunch and arrived half an hour late due to 3 diversions en route. Having worked in restaurants myself I know the trouble that late arrivals can cause but the staff here were charm and patience personified, as if it was no problem at all.
The dining room extends into a conservatory area, with fresh herbs in a jumble of different pots adorning tables and window ledges and lending a fresh scent to the air. Conservatories can often feel like an adjunct and be cold but this room, even on a chilly Sunday in February, was as cosy and welcoming as the rest of the Pig.
The 25 mile menu is made up of dishes with ingredients sourced within a 25 mile radius, many from the kitchen gardens on site. On the back of the menu is a map showing all the different suppliers who contribute their produce to the dishes on offer. Creating a seasonal menu with local produce in February, when nature’s bounty in the West Country is not exactly at its most abundant, is a challenge not for the fainthearted but certainly seems to drive creativity – I struggled to make a choice from the many appealing options.
We skipped starters, having just a nibble from the ‘piggy bits’ section of the menu instead. Vodka braised ribs aren’t something I have seen before and let’s hope all the alcohol had burned off since the children snaffled them as soon as they appeared.
The Piglets Menu for children had a range of crowd-pleasing favourites guaranteed to make small people clean their plates and the chicken and chips went down well with ours.
I had the pork cooked 2 ways, braised shoulder and roast loin, accompanied by a huge crispy Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes. The seasonal vegetables here are so colourful and tasty that I had to wrestle the butternut squash back off my daughter. Cabbage, red onion and carrots completed the vibrant picture. DH had lamb, served with a caper and raisin sauce, which also had him fending off the kids’ forks.
For dessert the children had a chocolate brownie, which didn’t touch the sides, and strawberry ice cream with a piggy biscuit. I had the cheese and I particularly enjoyed the goddess cheese with its rind washed in Somerset cider brandy. DH had the piggy fours, which (spot the theme) he gave up defending from the mini marauders.
We couldn’t do the wine list justice as we were driving but if you like sweet things I did spot a Piggy Colada cocktail, featuring chocolate brownie infused Havana Club Especial, amongst other delights. One to have if you are staying over and can haul yourself straight up to bed afterwards.
After lunch we relaxed with coffees in one of the lounges, read the papers and did nothing in a way that we seem never to get the chance to do on a Sunday afternoon at home. The log fires burning, the rustle of the colour supplements – this was a beatific place to spend a cold day. We also took a peek in one of the private dining rooms.
En route back to the car we strolled the gardens and saw the extensive allotments, chickens and deer. A pause at the smokehouse found another friendly staff member (this guy was in the kitchen brigade) who told us about the smoking process they use on site for their smoked salmon, smoked salt, hams and pancetta.
We will definitely be making a return visit to the Pig and, I can categorically say, I’m not missing the chintz.
PIN FOR WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY!