The Ox Barn at Thyme, Cotswolds: restaurant review
We try roast hogget with salsa verde, crab apple tart with frangipane and smooth vermouth cocktails at this Cotswolds restaurant
Looking for restaurants in the Cotswolds? Read our review of British seasonal restaurant, the Ox Barn at Thyme, and check out more suggestions for eating in the Cotswolds here
In a nutshell: The latest restaurant at Thyme – a family-run destination in the quaint Cotswolds village of Southrop – serving seasonal British dishes that make the most of the kitchen garden and working farmyard.
Who's cooking? The family’s son Charlie Hibbert is at the helm, having trained at Ballymaloe before a stint in New Zealand and, most recently, cooking in the kitchen of Soho's Quo Vadis.
What's the vibe?
A former oxen house complete with striking archways and exposed beams has kept its rustic charm while undergoing a modern, farmhouse-chic facelift. A circular bar takes centre stage, with a sleek, stone open-pass kitchen sat to its left, dining room to its right and cosy lounge nestled at the front.
Sink into the plush 60s-style armchairs tucked around marble tables peppered with flickering candlesticks and mismatching glass jars filled with stems of flowers, or, if you can, book the best seat in the house – the wooden sharing bench overlooking the pass. Later, hunker down on herringbone-patterned couches by the roaring fire with a post-dinner tipple while vintage chandeliers twinkle in the background.
What's the food like?
Wads of sourdough appear first, with chunks of homemade butter ready to be slathered generously on top. Sharing salads follow, one topped with smoky artichokes and silky slices of fatty pork that melts on the tongue, while the highlight for us was simply-dressed green leaves tossed with sweet, crisp slithers of yakon, nuggets of hazelnut and sweet dollops of quince jelly that broke through the salty, creamy chunks of stichelton that perched on top.
For mains, juicy pink slices of hogget sat alongside smooth, garlicky beans and super-fresh salsa verde that burst in the mouth. It's worth saving a chunk of bread to mop up the last of the meat juices and punchy green sauce.
Any dessert that comes with both ice cream and clotted cream is a winner, and a hefty slice of almond and crab apple tart stole the show. Chewy frangipane sat on a layer of sweet, jammy crab apple, while crisp, buttery pastry was as short as it gets. Be sure to let the double whammy of dairy melt together, creating rich puddles in which to soak the toasted flaked almonds.
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And the drinks?
Cocktails are inspired by hedgerows, so start with a Thyme signature, a dinky flute filled with a powerful concoction of sake, vodka and vermouth that sounds more lethal than it tastes. A sprig of fragrant thyme and smooth vermouth means you'll want to be sipping it all night long.
The wine list has a strong English focus, and we loved the Sussex pinot noir with its spicy plum notes. If you've got a sweet tooth, the 2004 Chateau Rieussec is a must, offering a pure rhubarb hit to your nose and tastebuds.
olive tip: Make a night of it and book to stay the evening in a bedroom that comes with homemade liqueur nightcaps and squidgy slabs of chocolate cake. In the day, try your hand at a Cocktails, Cordials and Infusions class at the cookery school, or explore the plethora of vegetables in the kitchen garden.
Go all out at breakfast by taking shots of homemade kefir (the richest we've ever tasted), tucking into lusciously creamy yogurt with poached orchard fruits and hot plates of buttery smoked trout with poached eggs and chard.
Thyme, Southrop Manor Estate, Gloucestershire, GL7 3NX
Words | Ellie Edwards