THE HARVARD HOUSE, STRATFORD - Nearby Restaurants

US visitors to the famous Harvard House in Stratford-Upon-Avon have a wide choice of restaurants just a stones-throw away from John Harvard's home. Directly across the road in Sheep Street (below) there is a wide choice of eateries, many housed in Elizabethan half timbered properties, providing all the Shakespearean atmosphere to a meal. You can choose from olde-worlde pubs like the 'Rose and Crown' to French bistros, such as 'Cafe Rouge', to fish and chip bars and English tearooms. But if you want something more up-market before going off for a tour or to see a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at the bottom of Sheep Street, then there is 'Lambs', 'Vintners' or 'The Opposition'. All of them have excellent reputations for good food, excellent service and value for money.


On Sunday, my wife and I decided to try the newly established Wildwood Kitchen (below), for the first time. Situated between Lambs and Vintners restaurants in Sheep Street, the timber-framed building has modern internal décor, is bright and airy, with a maize of rooms to the front and the rear. We had a table in the window, which exposes you to the full glare of the passing tourists. There is something of a large shop window to the restaurant, but if you like people watching, it is ideal. I must say, it kept us occupied, as the food was very slow coming out of the kitchen. We were in no hurry, but if you are, then Wildwood is best avoided. That said, the food is well worth the wait.


A mixed-up menu of pastas, pizzas, grills and salads, Wildwood is not a genuine Italian restaurant but more an Americanised Italian. Our waiter took our order for drinks promptly and when served with glasses of wine and water, he took our food order. Our shared starter of garlic bread took an age to arrive and I was expecting our mains to arrive first. I was wrong. How long does it take to heat up a slab of pre-prepared bread? I wondered if we had chosen the olives, they would have been flown fresh-in from Spain! Yes, the garlic bread was good - not too greasy, not too heavy on the garlic and plenty for two.

Another long wait for the mains followed, but listening-in on fellow diners telling staff of their food allergies provided an entertaining distraction - the women who could not take wine, cream, cheese or vinegar in her pasta was well satisfied by the chef producing a customised, if liquidised, spaghetti pomodoro.


Main dishes were well worth the wait. My wife's mackerel with a 'superfood' salad was beautifully presented, with the two delicately cooked slices of fish sitting astride a delightful salad of feta, quinoa, bean sprouts, and pomegranates, with a sharp, but not overpowering, citrus dressing. She loved it! I went for a cheese burger with fries and it was mouth-wateringly good. A firm, but not sweet, brioche bun contained a well cooked meaty beef burger with luscious sharp cheese, fresh tomato and crispy lettuce, with a tasty relish on the side. The fries were firm and potato filled, so unlike those 'matchsticks' served in most eateries these days. A good choice, I felt!


With empty plates finally cleared, we finished our lunch with coffees and paid our bill some 100 minutes after our arrival - including to small glasses of house wine and two 500ml bottles of sparkling water, our final bill was £40.50 ($58). Good value we thought, but be prepared to wait!


See:   http://www.wildwoodkitchen.co.uk/stratford.html

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