After being converted into a restaurant by owner David Nicholson, the former pub has established itself as one of the South’s culinary gems - serving quality food in a comfortable environment.
Like its sister establishment, The Black Boy, situated next door, The Black Rat wears its eccentricities on its sleeve. Expect weird and wonderful trinkets at every turn - not to mention some carefully concealed taxidermy (look out for the sleeping fox in the corner). Which is all part of its charm.
In the kitchen, twenty-something Head Chef Ollie Moore has built on the work of previous incumbents Chris Bailey and Jamie Stapleton-Burns by delivering natural, instinctive dishes that are unassumingly smart in their conception. Moore says his three-man-and-one-woman kitchen team can recognise immediately if a prospective dish is 'Black Rat' or not, so allows himself to be guided by the restaurant's strong sense of identity.
Lamb (tongue and neck) may come encased in ravioli and served with dandelions and nettle purée – a play on the animal’s eating habits – while a modern-looking peach Melba is enhanced by a mugwort panna cotta and blowtorched wild berries. Bread and accompanying butters are another signature part of the Black Rat experience.
The restaurant's forty plus covers are spread out across two dining rooms, divided by a reception area, with an upstairs private dining room also available.