Last weekend we took a drive to nearby Leamington Spa, having booked a table for lunch at The Tame Hare on the recommendation of a friend. I used to work in Leamington, and the sewing shop I get my supplies from is just round the corner, but as we approached the royal blue awning, I couldn't for the life of me remember seeing the restaurant before.
It turns out that the independently run Tame Hare has only been open for a matter of months, since early Spring of this year. After doing a bit of post-dine research for this post, I found out that head chef Johnny Mills has a pretty impressive CV, and was actually sous chef at one of our favourite local restaurants, The Cross, in Kenilworth.
The dining room is simple and congenial: almost coffee shop-esque, with comfortable seating, pendant lighting, and sweet decorative nods to its namesake. Even the home-churned butter was hare-shaped. We were seated by a friendly server at a large, round table (which I liked, because there's nothing worse than being a clumsy person on a cramped little table), and presented with both the a la carte and set menus. Starters and desserts average around 7 or 8 pounds, with the most expensive main course coming in at 18 pounds. The set menu is really good value at 20 pounds for three courses, with a good choice of dishes. We went a la carte this time, however.
The menus are made up of inventive, seasonal dishes with a distinctly British vibe, beautifully presented. We both chose the crispy braised duck neck and liver parfait to start, served with blueberries, apple, and a sprinkling of toasted oats. The parfait was perfectly smooth and velvety, contrasting nicely with the crunchy coating of the neck. We're big fans of duck, and this was a winner for me, especially in that the dish utilised more interesting cuts than the usual breast.
Mark opted for beef rump for main, and I chose slow cooked lambs neck fillet and belly. Both mains were cooked perfectly, with the slow cooked meat complemented wonderfully by the tender. If we had to make any criticism at all, it would be that the gravy was a little on the salty side, but flavoursome all the same.
I always get excited when a menu contains less widely used ingredients. Flavours like peanut butter, gooseberry and violet aren't everyone's cup of tea, but I found it hard to choose between the desserts because they were both exactly my kind of pudding! In the end, I opted for 'PB&J', which was peanut butter parfait and English gooseberries, hidden inside a peanut butter mousse, atop a buttery tuile. Mark had lemon curd and jelly with Parma Violet ice-cream and hazelnut.
Overall the meal was one we were happy to pay for, and every dish packed lots of flavour with thoughtful twists. The presentation may not have been the most refined, but that didn't deter from the quality, and sort of complemented the relaxed atmosphere of the place. It's the kind of restaurant you could effortlessly drop in to for lunch, which we fully intend to do again.
The Tame Hare, 97 Warwick Street, Leamington Spa
N.B. We booked and paid for lunch at The Tame Hare ourselves, and all opinions are our own.