When we booked our night at Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon and saw there was a Mike Robinson restaurant within the hotel we got excited. Like super excited. Like so excited that I decided The Woodsman restaurant needed a whole blog post dedicated to reviewing it because more people need to know about this very British experience.
So in this post, I’m going to talk about my personal experience eating at The Woodsman in Stratford-upon-Avon and share some reasons you need to add this to your best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon list.
The Woodsman Restaurant Overview
If you don’t already know how Mike Robinson is, read this. In short, he is a chef, restaurateur, hunter-gatherer, conservationist, and the UK’s most well-known game chef. He is fanatical about using sustainable ingredients in his cooking and all of this is reflected in the ethos of The Woodsman.
The Woodsman was nominated as the best new restaurant in the UK in 2020, and it’s easy to understand why. Eating at the Woodsman is a multi-sensory experience that I haven’t found in many British restaurants.
The restaurant itself is cozy and welcoming. The seats inside are layered with cushions and textures. While the outside seating is in a pleasant courtyard, there wasn’t enough sun cover for us with the baby (it was surprisingly sunny the day we visited).
What I liked about sitting inside the restaurant rather than outside though was the proximity to the kitchen. Which is smack bang in the center of the dining room.
It really is the star attraction to this restaurant and sends a clear message about outside cooking inside. I loved watching the chefs work cooking our food on the open wood stove. It added an extra element of excitement to the whole experience as you really feel like you are a part of the action, so to speak.
Everything about the menu is uber British, and of course sustainable. Each dish is based on a Field to Table culture, where everything (and I mean everything) is carefully selected by the chef and his team before being added to the menu. The fish comes from small day fishing boats in Cornwall, and all of the produce comes from small local farms. The deer is hunted locally and butchered on the premises. They take this idea o sustainable to another level with the deers in particular as they have an impressive policy of zero waste, the only thing not used is the bones!
All of this attention and care can be tasted in each meal lovingly prepared from the menu.
We decided to order different dishes so we could sample as much as we could from the menu. My husband ordered the pigeon to start followed by the deer. I ordered the mackerel to start followed by the lamb.
I’m not a restaurant critic, and I can’t profess to have a refined pallet, I’m just a travel blogger who likes to eat good food. What I can tell you about what we both ate was that it was truly wonderful. The explosion of flavors and the combinations of food on each plate was simply indescribable. In other words, we liked it A LOT. I still think about that lamb weeks later haha.
What I loved about the menu is there was something for all tastes, including vegetarian options. Everything on it is seasonal, so you can be assured of freshness and taste, and of course, it’s very, very British. I mean in what other country can you find deer, mackerel, and pigeon on the menu?
One of the things that you can not miss ordering is the Gin. In recent years Gin has become more and more popular as a drink in the UK and here at The Woodsman, you can find some extraordinary blends to enrich your culinary experience.
I feel I have to give a mention to the restaurant staff in this review as they were amazing. They were knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the menu. They helped us to order the best meals for us, and they were just very attentive and really took time for us, even though the restaurant was clearly busy (it’s always busy, so book in advance). They were also super sweet with baby charlie and even washed out his baby bowl for us.
When To Go
The best time to go to the Woodsman for the full effect is at night time, just because the atmosphere is that bit more exciting with the chefs working in the kitchen on the open fire. But because of the baby, we went for lunch, which was also a great experience.
You can visit any time of year as the menu changes with the seasons and in the winter there is that open fire to keep you warm!
If you are visiting Stratford-upon-Avon, then I really recommend paying a visit to The Woodsman. Don’t come here on a budget, you are going to want to splurge on 3 courses and of course some gin! Expect to spend around £100 per person for the full experience.
Trust me, it’s worth it to be able to unite all the senses with a meal that understands and attends to the meaning of sustainability and honorability of what we eat. It’s something that I truly admire and recommend.