Rural pubs have to produce something special for it to be worth a trip out of town but The White Horse at Woolstone, between Swindon and Faringdon, has done just that.
The Arkell’s-owned pub has brought in new chef Kai Taylor, who moved to the country pub from his previous role as Executive Chef at the Copthorne Millennium Group of hotels.
The 37-year old chef has designed and opened restaurants in Italy, Japan and even Cardiff, Wales, and was operations manager for the Lava Lounge in Swindon, has opted out of the rat race to concentrate on building up the reputation of The White Horse at Woolstone alongside its landlord Keith Adams.
“It might seem surprising to move away from a big role in a large group to being my own boss in a village pub kitchen, but here I can really develop good food that people not only want to eat, but surprises them as well,” he said.
Kai isn’t joking when he says he wants to surprise customers. His scampi and chips may not be quite what people expect from their local take-away or pub. It’s whole fried scampi still in its shell, with home-prepared chunky chips.
Other choices off the menu are not so wacky – although they are often presented on rather unusual dishes. “I don’t mind visiting Savernake Forest and picking up beautiful pieces of wood to fashion into plates,” he says. “It does make eating out a bit more exciting.”
Landlord Keith Adams says that since he took over The White Horse last year, business has picked up, but he is now working to attract customers from Swindon. “The White Horse at Woolstone is much closer than people in Swindon often think,” he says. “We’re just ten minutes from The Oxford Road roundabout and ½ mile from the famous White Horse Hill.
“I hope that local people will again consider their rural village pub for an evening out. If they agree to drive here, it’s up to us to give them a good night out – and I can guarantee that Kai’s menus will do just that.”