Guinea Pig night at The Woodhouse, Woodhouse Eaves

*ARCHIVE POST - Sadly The Woodhouse is no longer open*

If you’re local to Loughborough and want to try something off the wall and completely different, I would suggest you book a table at the next Guinea Pig night at Leary’s The Woodhouse. Headed up by Paul Leary, it's a small intimate restaurant in an old cottage right in the middle of the beautiful village of Woodhouse Eaves.

Every few months, they run this night. You turn up, you don’t know what you’re eating and you score it. They collate all their feedback and use it to help plan the next menu. It’s a great idea and such a fun way to spend an evening.

As we sat down, we were greeted with notepaper and pens and the waitress explained what would happen – each of us would be given a different starter, main and pud. We wouldn't be told what they were until after the meal at which point they gave us a copy of the menu. It really was our very own real life MasterChef palette test. I sit there year after year scoffing at the TV as contestants on that show fail miserably at the palette test. Well, never again. I like to pride myself on having a good palette and a wide knowledge of flavours and tastes. However, we all made basic errors guessing what it was we were eating! For instance, one of us had venison; we all thought it was duck! We guessed at mushroom volute for something which turned out to be celeriac and pear.

On the plus side, I correctly guessed at cucumber (in little spherical balls) as an accompaniment to my Halibut main and we also correctly identified girolles and blue cheese in other dishes. Of course the point of the Guinea Pig night is not to ‘guess what you’re eating’ - this was just a bit of fun really. The real point is to help the chefs decide what to put on their menu. They welcome your honest opinions and constructive criticism on all that you eat. I see it as an opportunity for them to test those wild and wonderful flavour combinations that may be too risky to put straight on the menu and to perfect any ideas they've been musing over in the last few months.

To be honest, for me, there was nothing truly outstanding on the menu but the quality of the ingredients was second to none, the hubby and I both had fish and it was cooked to perfection. Beef fillet and Venison made an appearance on our friend’s plates and they too, were fantastic quality and beautifully cooked. Overall, just one thing really let the evening down – the blackberry and licorice rice pudding. Stodgy pink mush served in a bowl a la school dinners with two sorry looking blackberries dropped on top as if in error. Let’s hope that doesn't make it onto the menu!

Blackberry and licorice rice pudding

Overall, if you want to do something a bit different and aren't a fussy eater, I would recommend you try the Guinea Pig night. Tables book up quickly so you need to get in fast, check out the Woodhouse facebook page to see when the next one is planned. This night is also great value for money at £24.95 for three courses, a fraction of what you would usually pay to eat Al a Carte at The Woodhouse.  

Have you been before? What did you think? And if you do decide to go next time, I’d love to hear what you ate and what you thought!


  1. I'd love to go to one of these, but I'm guessing allergies will stop me! Love your blog, my boyfriend (another big foodie like me!) goes to university in Loughborough so its good to hear about the area!

  2. Hi! Thanks for your comment, perhaps if you contact them ahead of time they could tailor something for you? The next night is 12 Nov. And you've come to the right place for Lboro reviews etc.. I'm a Lboro girl myself :-)


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