FOOD critic Jay Rayner gave a positive review of a new restaurant in Oxfordshire saying it “fully deserves to be very busy indeed”.

Five Little Pigs, of St Mary’s Street in Wallingford, was first opened in May 2021 by Sam Smith and Robert McGregor, co-owners of the The Keep in Castle Street, and chef Aimee Hunt.

Rayner, a journalist and food critic for The Guardian, booked at the restaurant, which is named after the nursery rhyme and the novel by Wallingford’s Agatha Christie, under a fake name about two weeks ago.

Oxford Mail: Five Little Pigs opened in May 2021.Five Little Pigs opened in May 2021.

Staff at the restaurant, which was started after a successful £30,000 fundraiser, joked Rayner may show up one day but had no idea how he discovered the establishment.

Mr McGregor said the team are “blown away” by the review which described them as a “well-dressed, smart little bistro” with an “interesting menu”.

“The first time we knew he was going to review us was when he walked through the door,” said Mr McGregor.

“He was the first customer in and all focus and attention was on him. It was huge for all of us but Aimee especially as she’s an incredibly talented chef and it was so nice that one of her heroes came in and liked her food.

“I was serving him and Aimee was cooking but he kept his cards close to his chest and we really didn’t know how it went - it was a nerve wrecking two weeks afterwards, it was like waiting for exam results.”

Oxford Mail: Jay Rayner's Instagram post about Five Little PigsJay Rayner's Instagram post about Five Little Pigs

Rayner tried bone-marrow aioli, scotch egg and deep-fried olives stuffed with capers and marjoram for starters, a cheese toastie, torched mackerel and caramelised venison ragu for the main and rice pudding with ginger cake and a rhubarb and cardamom-flavoured custard donut for dessert.

Oxford Mail: He described the cheese toastie as "golden and a little oily, and crusted in places with rich, salty cheese that has leaked out."He described the cheese toastie as "golden and a little oily, and crusted in places with rich, salty cheese that has leaked out."

Mr McGregor said: “Aimee is on holiday in Costa Rica and joked she’d stay there if the review was bad so it was just relief when it came out.

“We’re a small restaurant and we’ve only been going for 10 months and we’re trying to do something different and showcase the best produce in the area so it’s great to get someone like Jay Rayner in here.

“I believe in what we do and we started the business as we believe in Aimee’s food and the local sustainable message but we didn’t know what would happen.”

Rayner’s only critique was the speed of the kitchen which he attributed to the fact the restaurant was empty.

Mc McGregor said: “He’s a critic and it’s his job to pick up on anything and  if that’s the thing he chose then I’m happy.”

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