The Mole Inn

Now that the freneticism of Christmas is over and we can all relax, there is nowhere better to venture than the comforting echelons of The Mole in Toot Bladon.

The ultimate gastropub, its esteemed welcome comes complete with log fires, sterling staff, some fantastic cocktails and, of course, the highly skilled kitchen abilities of head chef Dave Phillips.

Head chef Dave Phillips

There are so many enticing seating areas to choose from, so after a quick drink at the bar, we opted for a table near the roaring fire, candles illuminating the scene in this tastefully decorated countryside pub.

The Mole’s all encompassing menu means there is something for everyone, Dave preferring to demonstrate his understanding of flavour, texture and alacrity in the dishes themselves.

roast local squash, squash fritters, candied pecans and basil

Tempted by the soup of the day – a haricot bean and white truffle soup (of the day), we managed to persuade Dave to let us try it as an amuse bouche in tiny cups, and it was heavenly – rich, soft and soothing, whetting our palettes for what was to come.

A wonderful meal followed, and while we won’t document it all, highlights included our starter of roast local squash, squash fritters, candied pecans and basil – a winter salad of sorts (£9) – the soft croquettes contrasting with the charred squash, the sticky, sweet nuts and the distinct herbs. (see pic above)


The chicken liver and calvados parfait with chutney and toast (£11) was also exemplary.

Steak and burgers were up next, and why not when they do it so well here, along with a delectable middle white pork belly nestling on a stew of butter beans, bacon, broccoli, chorizo, and aioli. (£21)

middle white pork belly, butter beans, , brocolli, bacon, chorizo and aioli at The Mole Inn

The steak, a sirloin of Herefordshire beef from Cotswolds Game and Meat Company, written up so tantalisingly on the specials board above the fireplace, was irresistible, arriving with chips, salad and a choice of sauces – we went for béarnaise, and it didn’t disappoint.

The accompanying salad – peashooter, rocket, radish and fennel – added a vibrant continental touch to the dishes.

The Mole Inn burger with cheddar cheese, smoked bacon and fries (£19) was nicely seasoned, and oozing with cheese and bacon juices.

The vegetarian alternative – a spiced chickpea burger with tzatziki, tomato, lettuce and fries (£16), meant everyone was included in our feast.

As for dessert – the apricot, walnut & ginger pudding with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream (£9) – lived up to all expectations; it’s nostalgic depths hitting all the right notes.

dark chocolate cremeaux with cherry sorbet and Kirsch cherries

As for the baked banoffee cheese cake with caramelized banana (£9), it was an unexpectedly delicious discovery, as was the enticing dark chocolate cremeaux with cherry sorbet and Kirsch cherries (£10), so carefully laid out on the plate, such finesse.

So you’ll see our point; that The Mole Inn is not only enormously hospitable and full of bonhomie, but the food is inviting, beautifully executed and memorable. In short, it’s the perfect January treat.

The Mole Inn, Toot Baldon is at