The Walnut Tree Inn
Tel: 01873 852 797
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When Shaun Hill took over The Walnut Tree Inn in 2008, he wasn't just acquiring a road-side pub in a beautiful rural Welsh setting. Between 1963 and 2001, it was a genuine culinary landmark run by pioneering chef Franco Taruschio but had more recently fell on hard times.
If anyone could revive the inn's fortunes it was Hill who had developed a fondness for the place as a regular customer during Taruschio's ownership.
Rather than try and replicate the inn's original Italian formula, Hill relied on his idiosyncratic yet highly appealing style of cooking to successfully woo back the customers. The daily changing menu is peppered with Hill's classic dishes including monkfish with tomato, chilli and ginger and rack of lamb with spring vegetable stew. The season's are clearly reflected in dishes like the quintessentially spring-like new season asparagus with Jersey Royals and morels, and Hill's love of offal evident in calf’s sweetbreads with pork cromesqui and sauerkraut.
The guides and critics have been quick to heap praise on the restaurant. Awarding 9.75 out of 10, the Guardian's Matthew Norman said 'this place...sings of a blissful and fecund union between sheer talent and lack of pretension'. Michelin have bestowed a star and it was voted 17 in the National Restaurant Awards list of the best 100 restaurants in the UK.
Just as Hill eschews over-elaboration on the plate, the inn's bar and two dining rooms are all about elegant restraint; white painted walls, carefully chosen art and simply laid wooden tables. You'll also find elegance and restraint if you stay overnight (and you should, if only to try out some of the excellent wine lists more obscure selections such as Ribas Soma, a viognier from Mallorca) in one of the two cottages adjacent to the inn.
Shaun Hill is one of Britain's most enduringly successful chefs. He began his career in 1966, working for Robert Carrier in his Islington restaurant. He went on to work in some of London's most prestigious addresses including The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge with Brian Turner and Blakes in South Kensington
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Reviews & Interviews
The Michelin Guide
One Michelin Star