Restaurant review: The Shoulder of Mutton, Wantage

What do Bath, Brighton and Wantage have in common? Not very much you might imagine, and rightly so, but you might be surprised to learn that they each have a vegetarian pub – that is, a pub serving exclusively vegetarian food. In Bath it’s The Porter, while in Brighton The George does the honours. In Wantage, The Shoulder of Mutton in Wallingford Street is an unexpected haven for vegetarians and vegans, not least because part of the premises used to be a slaughterhouse! This idiosyncratic establishment only has three (large) tables, arranged in two adjoining rooms (one of which is best described as a miniature version of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles), so you generally need to book in advance, especially at weekends. The menu fits comfortably onto an A5 sheet of paper, so do not expect gourmet dining (this is pub food, after all), although the chef and landlord Peter Fowler is prepared to cook off-menu if given sufficient notice. We had delicious nut rissoles, with salad and cooked vegetables, followed by fresh mango and pineapple slices for dessert, simple but satisfying and reasonably priced (starters are mostly £4-50 and main dishes cost £10 except for the “Mutton” Curry priced at £9). The latter is the only main course marked as suitable for vegans on the menu, although some of the starters are vegan-friendly too. So, is this unfashionable pub worth a special trip to Wantage: a small market town whose main claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of King Alfred – the only English monarch to be dubbed “The Great”? Probably not, but if you do find yourself in the town The Shoulder of Mutton – the only vegetarian eating place in South Oxfordshire – is definitely worth a visit.

To see what The Shoulder of Mutton has to offer go to:

Paul Appleby


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