Restaurant review: The Hare and Hounds, Leavenheath: “Solid home cooking with an Austrian twist”

The huge plate of chicken schnitzel.

The huge plate of chicken schnitzel. - Credit: Archant

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis says the schnitzel is worth the drive to this country pub in Leavenheath.

This Thai green curry was tasty but didn't resemble a Thai curry at all.

This Thai green curry was tasty but didn't resemble a Thai curry at all. - Credit: Archant

Food

I’ve had this pub (not 15 minutes from my house) on my ‘list’ for nearly a year – ever since Hardeep Singh Kohli raved about it during a dinner I attended at nearby Stoke By Nayland hotel.

At last I found myself there, family in tow, for an early evening, can’t-be-bothered-to-cook, supper.

What really attracted me was the Austrian section of the menu. My grandmother was Austrian, so I have a kinship with that kind of bolshy, hip-wibbling food.

A delicious homemade apple crumble with plenty of cinnamon.

A delicious homemade apple crumble with plenty of cinnamon. - Credit: Archant


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Aside from plates of homemade noodles oozing with caramelised onion and Gouda cheese, schnitzels and goulash, the main menu spoke of home cooking and heartiness.

We skipped starters and dove straight into a tremendous game pie with proper pastry, a big old pile of mash, al dente veg and a jug of gravy to lash over the top. The gravy could have been a bit darker, but the main event of the pie was just fab. Absolutely rammers with nicely seasoned, juicy chunks of game. Just the thing for a cold winter’s night.

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The chicken schnitzel, served with fries and cranberry sauce, was a work of beauty. Fair enough, the chips were the frozen kind, but as everything else was homemade it’s totally forgivable. The schnitzel pretty well covered the whole plate. The pile was so mountainous it almost resembled the Alps. But we weren’t complaining – it meant we could all enjoy a decent portion of the succulent chicken, which had been seasoned perfectly and was golden and tender without tasting ‘fried’.

I thought the flavour of the Thai green curry was nice, but not authentic in the slightest. There was a whack of heat, but lemongrass was the overriding flavour and if there was coconut milk in it, it was barely detectable. They’d have done better to call it a prawn curry because Thai that wasn’t.

The puddings we had were homely but nothing spectacular. A sticky toffee pud hadn’t been mixed well enough and had little parcels of flour within the batter. And the sauce was too sweet. Eton Mess was a huge glassful and did what it said on the tin. But there was a triumph with the piping hot apple crumble which, with its generous, melting pool of cinnamony apple under a crunchy top, put a big smile on my hubby’s face.

Drink

They do a good job with the beers here and had an interesting choice at the bar, including Adnams Old Ale, and Crouch Vale Wild Hop, which was fab alongside the game pie.

It was nice to see drivers had been thought of too, as there were a few different Belvoir cordials to choose from alongside the usual lemonades and cokes.

Ambiance

This is a totally no-frills pub with quite plain décor, a fire on the go, and a pool table. It’s a local, but not the kind where all eyes are on you as you walk in. We were made to feel really welcome and despite it being quiet on the night we visited we got the impression it’s a well-loved place.

Location

In south Suffolk not far from Sudbury, Hadleigh or Nayland. There are loads of brilliant walks nearby.

Parking

There’s ample parking in the pub car park.

Service

We were kind of left to do our own thing and the service was pretty well laid back – you order at the bar. If you’re looking to be waited on hand and foot this isn’t the place for you, but if you want a bite to eat, a beer and no fuss, it’s perfect.

Price

A three course meal for one comes in at around £20, which I’d say is about right for what we had.

Highlight

The game pie was excellent, but we all said we’d go back for the schnitzel alone. It was yummy.

Summary

Despite not every dish being a winner, we thought this was a decent little country pub trying to do something a bit different. We appreciated that most things were homemade. And as I already mentioned, we’d go back especially for the schnitzel because it was so damn good.

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