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Capturing the spirit of fine dining

Tony Rowen enjoys a fine dining experience at The Hopping Hare in Northampton


AS an animal, hares may have a reputation of being less social than rabbits and are usually at their most visible in early spring, but one hare in Northampton is visible all year round and is certainly very social.

It is, of course, The Hopping Hare in Duston – an informal, contemporary and elegant venue combining a restaurant, bar and 20 bedrooms, which has risen from the ashes of a devastating fire in 2006.

The family-run Hopping Hare has, without doubt, been highly successful. Today it is the only two AA Rosette restaurant in Northampton and won the Booker Food Pub of the Year award in the 2017/18 Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards.

The objective of the restaurant is to serve excellent quality food at great value prices to reflect the spirit of fine dining.

This is achieved by having a strong brigade of skilled and talented chefs, led by Executive Chef Karl Penny and Head Chef Grzegorz Szliter, and sourcing produce based on quality and sourced locally wherever possible.

It is obviously a recipe that is successful as the conservatory restaurant was doing a brisk trade when we paid a midweek visit last month. The dining area is fully carpeted with well-spaced tables, comfortable chairs and is light and airy with large windows running the full length of the room.

First impressions are so important and the friendly waiting team at The Hopping Hare certainly score highly on this front. On being shown to our table we were immediately offered water and asked our drink requirements. Ordering a Chilean Chardonnay, we got down to the serious business of studying the a la carte and weekly market fayre menus.

Both menus had tempting offerings but we were drawn to the a la carte, selecting lightly smoked salmon with avocado mousse, beetroot and baked lemon dressing; and asparagus and hazelnut salad with Parmesan and rocket for our starters.

For our mains, roasted breast of guinea fowl with mini pie to the leg, cauliflower puree, spring cabbage, wild mushroom and thyme jus won my vote, while Anita chose pan-fried sea trout with heritage tomatoes, warm potato, watercress salad and a baked lemon dressing.

Food is, obviously, a key element of a dining experience but there are other factors that come into play such as presentation, service and the general ambience of the restaurant.

The Hopping Hare scores highly in all these areas. The food was of high quality, the presentation of our dishes was superb, the service was excellently and efficiently executed by the waiting team while the room itself provided a relaxed atmosphere even though it was busy.

We both ordered strawberry Eton Mess for dessert followed by coffee to round off a thoroughly enjoyable meal. The stated aim of The Hopping Hare is ‘to serve excellent quality food at great value price’ to reflect the spirit of fine dining. On the evidence of our visit, this is achieved in abundance.

Every dish at The Hopping Hare is cooked in-house with daily deliveries from suppliers to ensure only the freshest ingredients are used. The menus change with the seasons and in addition to the a la carte and weekly market fayre menus, there is a Hopping Hare favourites version featuring burgers, beer-battered haddock, rib eye steak and fish pie, as well as a children’s menu.

There is, however, much more to The Hopping Hare. The spacious bar is well stocked with a range of lagers and cask ales together with a balanced wine list and an extremely well stocked range of spirits.

The 20 comfortable en suite bedrooms have become firm favourites with business guests in the week, with many of them staying on a regular basis when visiting Northampton, while at the weekend people visiting the county for family parties, weddings or simply to enjoy some of the attractions available in Northamptonshire choose the hotel as an ideal base.

The Hopping Hare is open every day with food orders taken from noon to 9.30pm on Monday to Thursday; from noon to 10pm on Friday and Saturday; and from noon to 8.30pm on Sunday. A Monday to Friday lunch menu is available from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

One of the benefits of being independently owned is that a venue can adapt easily to individual requirements and the management at The Hopping Hare is more than happy to discuss these needs to produce a bespoke package.


The Hopping Hare

18 Hopping Hill Gardens




01604 580090


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