Meet The Chef | The Tame Hare Leamington Spa
Grandma’s treacle tarts and casseroles were the inspiration for the infant Jonny Mills to start cooking up treats of his own. Proof lies in a family photo of an apron-clad Jonny aged 4, standing on a chair happily stirring a pan on the hob. As he continued learning and experimenting in the kitchen it became more or less inevitable that he’d one day become a chef, but now Jonny also owns his own restaurant, The Tame Hare in Leamington Spa, in partnership with his foodie dad, Simon.
After school, 16 year old Jonny signed on for a catering course at Stratford upon Avon College. Meanwhile Dad landed him a pot washing job at the Michelin starred Mallory Court Hotel. It was inevitable he’d quickly become involved in the food prep!
“By the time I started college I was working every hour I could,” says Jonny. “I fell in love with it! It was incredible, like a military operation and very eye opening. It was a very pressured environment with high standards to adhere to. I had massive respect for Head Chef Simon Haigh. He could be harsh but he’d happily start chopping carrots if that was what was needed.”
Jonny switched to full time work with college day release to gain his NVQ 3. When Mallory Court sous chef Adam Brown left to open the Arden Hotel Restaurant in Stratford, Jonny went with him. Later he became sous chef, then head chef at The Cross, Kenilworth. Later still he ran a Cotswold pub, The Ebrington Arms, retaining 2 Rosettes over his time there.
While he was on holiday in Malta his father emailed a picture of a certain pub/restaurant in Leamington with the message; “What do you reckon?”
And so The Tame Hare was born. It’s very good looking, completely laid back and serves its customers with panache and modest prices.
It wows the paying public with great tasting dishes from menus which Jonny devises himself. These make the most of fresh, local ingredients from quality suppliers, including Mother Nature in person. Jonny loves to forage from the local woods and fields, one week seeking out damsons, apples and pears, another wild garlic and mushrooms, always herbs, flowers and salad leaves straight from the earth.
A sample three courses may consist, say, of confit trout with cucumber and strawberry dressing, rump of beef & rendang cheek with barbequed aubergine, spinach and choy sum, followed by thyme creme caramel with orange and candied rose petals
The Tame Hare is always running with new and different choices to serve in a relaxed fine dining environment in the heart of the town. Since opening in 2016 the hare has retained its AA Rosette and TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, aided by a team of chefs greatly valued by Jonny.
“We run a very small menu,” he says, “Four starters, four mains, four desserts. The menu is basically a specials board. It uses the best of what we have got at the time, what is in season.
“That keeps it moving for our regulars. There’s always something new to try.”
The Tame Hare
97 Warwick St, Leamington Spa CV32 4RJ