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Review: Wild Thyme, Chipping Norton

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I wrote about the restaurant Wild Thyme as part of a larger feature on Chipping Norton in the summer, but actually it deserves it’s own little spot of sunshine on the blog and on the restaurant pages, so here we go. It’s a slight review, because I was giving a broad brush stroke of the town but hopefully it gives you a decent insight into whether it’s a place you’d like to eat at.

Wild Thyme

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Oh helloooooooo! Had a fantastic meal here. Wild Thyme is Chippy’s long-standing top restaurant and it’s easy to see why. It’s an intimate, family-run venture by a husband (Nick, the chef) and wife (Sally, front of house) team, cooking food with Mediterrean influences, and feels intimate and elegant. With only 35 covers in the main restaurant and a pretty courtyard out the back seating another 14, it’s the kind of place you’d come for a romantic dinner, or a special occasion meal, a business meal or with girlfriends for a really good lunch. If you fancy something a bit more raucous (like the Muddy Stilettos Christmas party – hold onto your hats Three Pigeons!), it may not be the place for you.

The decor is attractive in that familiar Cotswolds way  –  exposed brickwork, white painted chairs that look like they’ve come from a church, lots of wood, livened up with some bright art on the walls and an occasional shimmering panel of wallpaper. Nothing to get Elle Deco wetting their knickers in excitement, but just right for a market town restaurant.

Which brings me to the food. I started with a double baked goats cheese souffle, beetroot, hazlenuts, and red onion marmalade (£8.50), which was incredible and tasted 100 times better than my awful photo makes it look. It was quite dark in the restaurant and because diners are fairly close together I didn’t want to annoy the other guests with the camera flash.

The souffle - a culinery triumph (though not a photographic one, I realise it looks like icecream!)

Then it was onto the sauté fillet of Cornish turbot, pan roasted baby squid, crushed new potatoes, braised fennel, broad beans, home dried tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil (£20.00), below. Looks amazing no?

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You can see why I had no room for dessert, though they did bring out home made honeycomb (think posh Crunchie) which pretty much made my night.

Service was attentive but discreet, just the way I like it. Prices are above average, but then so is the food. There are rooms too, though  I was snuggled up in The Corner House for the night, so I can’t comment on the beauty of the Wild Thyme snuggle zones (though they have recently retained their 4 star rating with the AA which would suggest they’re above average). But certainly on the food side of things, Wild Thyme’s reputation as the best restaurant in Chipping Norton looks safe for some to come on this showing.

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

Best for: grown-ups. Business meetings (David Cameron has been known to step over the threshold), family gatherings, romantic evenings, girly lunches if you don’t get too rowdy. Large parties – with only 40-odd covers, you can take over the restaurant!

Not for: young children unless they are freakishly well behaved – the restaurant is small.

£££: It’s on the more expensive side of reasonable, at roughly £55 per head for a three course meal but there are set menus to suit those with pockets less deep.

10 New Street, Chipping Norton, OX7 5LJ. wildthymerestaurant.co.uk

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