The Lamb Inn, Burford
Two of our favourite things in the world: 1) The Cotswolds, 2) eating loads. Hello The Lamb, we're here to do both!
A posh midweek lunch in the Cotswolds? Well, it sure beats a cheese sarnie al desko. Muddy’s Sarah Taylor takes a deliciously decadent day off to check out The Lamb Inn hotel and restaurant in Burford.
Once three separate weavers’ cottages, this 15th century Cotswold stone coaching inn is so ridiculously pretty that you feel like you’re walking onto the set of a Richard Curtis movie. It’s on the western edge of the also ridiculously pretty, tiny, tourist-magnet town of Burford, just a few minutes from the high street.
Surprisingly cosy and relaxed for such a chi-chi place . The staff are uniformly smiley and friendly, and I loved the gorgeous aroma of beech wood burning on the open fires. The trad English decor is warm and rich, with plenty of swirly-patterned rugs, low-lit table lamps and an eclectic mix of antique furniture. All of which makes it perfect for hunkering down on a cold winter day.
And because the building is long and narrow, there’s a network of small rooms with endless nooks and crannies, so even when it’s busy you can always find a quiet corner. Just like this one.
The dining room is a tasteful mixture of deep red and sage green walls hung with charming paintings by Kat Lightfoot, who specialises in animal pictures (see the dogs standing guard over the fireplace, below) and crisp white table linen. This is no grab’n’go, quick bite place. We lingered over three courses clocking up a two hour stint, which makes it the most leisurely lunch I’ve had in a while. Isn’t it nice to slow down now and then?
SCOFF & QUAFF
Apparently the menu has been simplified recently to give it broader appeal, so although the surroundings suggest fine-dining the food has more of a high-end gastro pub feel. Which was fine and dandy by us. Everything we ate was cooked to perfection, unpretentious and reasonably priced. I had scallops to start – and they were genuinely the best I’ve ever tasted.
The butternut squash risotto, blue cheese and truffle oil main was warming, wintery and, well, wonderful.
Pudding? Well, if you insist. The dainty chocolate tart with passion fruit ice cream had perfectly light, crisp pastry. No soggy bottoms here.
I could’ve done with a lie-down after such sustained gobbling but sadly there was no time for a sleepover this time. I did have a poke around rooms though. There are 17, all with sumptuous soft furnishings, antique furniture and modern touches such as Nespresso machines. I really liked the first floor ‘Allium’ room, which is beautifully light with windows on each side and views over the nearby Burford Priory. The bathroom was enormous and decadent with a freestanding bath in the middle, a separate shower, a flat-screen telly on the wall big fluffy towels and robes and Molton Brown toiletries.
I was there during was term-time and the only sign of a child was a very well-behaved baby in a high chair in the restaurant. Children are very much welcome and there’s a decent kids’ menu, but there are lots of open fires, antiques and knick-knacks around so if your child is in the feral roaming toddler stage, you might find it tricksy. Personally, I would leave my three little darlings at home and head here for some civilized grown-up time.
OUT & ABOUT
I’m a big fan of nearby Burford Garden Company which sells everything from clothes to really cool interiors stuff. I picked up a door mat, just because it had a star in the middle and, hey, it was cute. Other local highlights include St John the Baptist Church, which was built in around 1175 (seriously stunning – don’t miss it) and The Tolsey museum. Shopwise, it’s low on hip and high on antiques but you’ll happily meander down the hill for a few hours and you can always hop into the car to Buscot Park in Faringdon, Chipping Norton, Chastleton House or the Cotwolds Wildlife Park if you’re thinking of making a short break of it.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Romantic weekends and very long lingering lunches.
Not for: Kids’ birthday parties and wild girls’ nights out (unless your friends are more sedate than mine!)
The damage: As expected for this elegant, moneyed neck of the woods – starters around £8.50, main courses around the £15 mark and puds around £7.
The Lamb Inn, Sheep Street, Burford, Oxon OX18 4LR, 01993 823155, cotswolds-inns-hotels.co.uk