That’s what my guests and I found ourselves saying after every first bite of every dish we tried at The Bird in Hand.
And, to be frank, every bite that followed.
It wasn’t until we couldn’t eat from the revamped menu at Knowl Hill pub and restaurant that we stopped exclaiming.
Taken over by Butcombe Pub and Inns in November 2020, the Bird in Hand has seen its rooms renovated and its restaurant offer “transformed”.
We were very happily invited to try the new Bath Road restaurant menu last week.
When me and two friends arrived we were greeted by a row of immaculate Aston Martins.
Our very friendly waiter told us that the pub frequently hosts car club nights, including get-togethers for owners of Ferraris and Skodas, among others.
The entrance to the bird in the hand is very aesthetic – it looks like the facade of a small chapel covered with pretty pink flowers.
The bird in the hand
It’s, as the kids say, very “Instagramable”.
The interior is just as nice. It is rustic and complete with woodwork. It felt like a welcoming, upscale, relaxed country pub.
With several bird-themed designs scattered around the restaurant’s seating area, there is a real springtime atmosphere inside.
First we ordered drinks. I opted for a small glass of Pinot Grigio which was crisp and fruity and cost around £7.
My friend ordered a strawberry lemonade mocktail which looked very mouth watering and was apparently just as good.
The non-alcoholic cocktail
Ordering from the supper menu for our meal, two of us opted for the shoulder of lamb (£8.95) to start.
It came encased in a balsamic red onion croquette and was accompanied by braised peas, gem lettuce, smoked bacon and spring onion.
This is where our first “oh my god” came in because the lamb was delicious.
It was tangy, chewy and rich and the greens that came with it complemented the meat well.
The three of us ordered Sam’s Bangers and Mash for our main course, which was the Salon Culinaire’s winning dish “Pub Chef of the Year 2022”, according to the menu.
Priced at £18.50, it features homemade Cumberland sausages, sticky pancetta, red onion and mustard marmalade, savoy cabbage and creamed potatoes.
the Bangers and Mash
When it arrived we were first engrossed in its wonderful presentation.
The collard greens act as a bed for the single Cumberland sausage, with the pancetta also resting on top.
On a separate plate comes the custard potato in a small circular pot, with a small cup of sauce on the same slate.
The mashed accompaniment
And that’s when our second “oh my God” could be heard, as we dug into the soft, creamy, pillow-like mash.
The sausage was peppery and had a good tender consistency and the pancetta was very flavorful and not greasy.
Combined with the sauce, the dish was quite salty.
Firecrackers and mash
Luckily, the sweetness of the marmalade provided a welcome juxtaposition, creating the perfect mix of sweet and savory.
We all devoured the dish – which was packed with flavor and punch – in no time.
I think we would all agree that these were the best bangers and mashes we have ever had, and most likely will have for many years to come.
You can tell the chefs have tried and tested all the layers so that they work perfectly together.
Feeling stuffed, we somehow managed to sneak into the desserts.
Between the three of us, we opted for the sticky date and caramel pudding (£7.50), the Wye Valley lemon and rhubarb tart (£7.95) and the white chocolate cheesecake (£8.50).
The cheesecake boasted a wonderful firm cookie base that complemented the thick, jelly filling.
The lemon pie was tangy and refreshing, the fresh whipped cream side helping to provide a wonderfully light texture.
Lemon and rhubard tart
And the sticky caramel pudding was perfect. It was rich, it wasn’t heavy, and it was extremely light and smooth. The caramel sauce was delicious.
My third “oh my god” came while eating the sticky caramel pudding (we each shared a bit of each dessert) and it was my favorite of the three.
The sticky caramel pudding
All in all, we left feeling extremely satisfied with absolutely delicious food in our bellies.
The Bird in Hand is a truly excellent pub – the service is friendly, chatty and sophisticated, the food is delicious and the setting is very comfortable and relaxed.
It’s definitely a bit pricey, but for what you get, it’s definitely worth paying a visit.
This is the perfect pub for the upcoming spring and summer months.