'This takes us to the next level': Northampton gastro-pub lands prestigious second AA rosette

The George family bought the Hopping Hare in 2005, shortly after it had burned to the ground in a fire. The family spent over 1million renovating the premises.
The George family bought the Hopping Hare in 2005, shortly after it had burned to the ground in a fire. The family spent over 1million renovating the premises.

The owners of a popular family-run Northampton gastro-pub say they are thrilled after joining an elite list of venues awarded two prestigious rosettes.

The Hopping Hare in, Hopping Hill Gardens, Duston, has been handed the accolade by the AA, which runs the rosette scheme in England for excellence in eatreries.

Evening times at the Hopping Hare.

Evening times at the Hopping Hare.

Judges made the assessment over a series of visits to a venue, which also has a number of guest rooms.

Head chef, Nick Kimber joined the team in January and immediately set his sights on gaining the second rosette.

"This takes us to the next level," he said. "It puts us among the best restaurants in Northamptonshire."

The venue, which has just launched a £30-a-head taster menu, also attests to being reasonably priced, though many similarly-accoladed venues charge much more.

Judges described the Jaffa Cake pudding as "heaven on a plate".

Judges described the Jaffa Cake pudding as "heaven on a plate".

A fortnight ago it launched its spring menu featuring a popular duo of beef with sprouting purple broccoli and a gin and tonic salmon starter.

The gastro-pubs' Jaffa Cake pudding, however, was picked out as "outstanding" by the AA judges - which they described as "heaven on a plate".

Despite the recent awards, Mr Kimber, 32, of Sixfields, says the venue remains a local pub at heart.

He said: "It's a blend of gastro-pub and restaurant.

Head chef Nick Kimber.

Head chef Nick Kimber.

"There really is something for everyone - it's modern British cooking with an emphasis on quality.

"We use locally sourced produce, that's good value, that's affordable.

"It is somewhere you can go on a Wednesday or Thursday night for a bit of dinner with the family."

Mr Kimber has been cooking since the age of 15 and recently left a head chef position at the five-star Soho Hotel, London, which he had worked at for four years.

Owner, David George, who runs the venue with his wife Joy and son David Jnr, said the rosette is good news for Northampton diners - as many other of the AA accoladed venues are situated around the county.

"We have three objectives here," he added. "Excellent quality food, great customer service and outstanding value for money."