W H A T : The Restaurant at The Pig, set in the heart of the New Forest.
W H E R E : Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7QL
T H E L O W D O W N : This renowned and in-demand new style country hotel, is the brainchild of Hotel du Vin co-founder Robin Hutson together with marketing guru David Elton. The Pig in Brockenhurst was the first in the Pig portfolio (they now have four in total) and was the prototype for a fresh & imaginative approach to the country hotel. It’s the baby sister of the nearby Lime Wood Hotel & Spa, but with a little more character and edge. Although in theory it is a country house hotel, this really is a restaurant with rooms; the focus is very much on the fresh, uncomplicated and simple home grown garden food (we love it already). Staying true to the micro seasons and influenced by the forest, with the emphasis on fresh and clean flavours. Whatever is not grown in the garden is locally sourced within a 25 mile radius (the menu is very aptly also named ‘The 25 mile menu`) staying true to The Pig’s trademark of immediacy from garden to plate.
B E S T F O R : If you’re lucky enough to get get a room here (it gets booked up months in advance) this really is the ultimate idyllic English countryside getaway. Set in the stunning New Forest, this country manor house holds 26 rooms, private suites in the old stables, a large outside terrace, and several cozy snugs which you can easily relax in for hours. Combine that with the excellent food you have the perfect weekend retreat (did we mention their spa facilities)?
F O O D & D R I N K : The Pig kitchen is a ‘team of three`; the chef, gardener and forager. The kitchen is overseen by Head Chef Dan Gover and the menu is inspired by the likes of Skye Gyngell at Petersham Nurseries and Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, both pioneers of the philosophy that cooking should be based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. The forager is Garry Eveleigh and kitchen gardener Alex Coutts. Alexs main brief at THE PIG is to actively search out and cultivate more unusual ingredients with which Dan can work his magic. It all sounds pretty magical to us!
As the menu is so seasonal and fresh, the menu literally changes by the minute depending on what the forager finds or the kitchen gardener deems to be in perfect condition. It is quite meat heavy (a lot of pork), however it was still very accommodating with various pescatarian and vegetaration options.
Snacks & Starters: From their iconic Piggy Bits (black pudding balls with smoked chipolatas and spiced onions), Walled Garden Fritters with Wild Garlic Mayonnaise, Wild Mushroom Soup, Foraged Oyster Mushroom, Local Rainbow Carrots, Cured Salmon, Fresh Cockles, Duck Egg on Toast with Wild Garlic & Herb Butter and Crispy Tobacco Onion there is something for everyone here (even if youre not a big fan of mushrooms, or meat!).
Mains: A meat heavy (especially pork rich) selection, Roasted Breasts of New Forest Wood Pigeon to a couple of delicious fish options including a Dorset Coast Pollock Fillet with Braised Pearl Barley & Dorset Cockles the mains were mouth-watering (and good portions sizes!).
Dessert: Always a highlight their desserts are also pretty exceptional, with a Warm Earl Grey Scented Chocolate Torte with Earl Grey Ice Cream & Chocolate Sauce, Lemon Basil Posset & Shortbread and Macerated New Forest Strawberries (heaven, in other words).
R E C A P : Sadly we didn’t stay for the weekend, but we still had an amazing day trip to the hotel! The journey down from London is very easy, taking less than 2-hours on the train which was (obviously) worth every minute; this place is pretty spectacular. The magical forest grounds, the grand, yet homely building, the rustic and traditional decor, and of course the food. You walk in, and you immediately feel like home. It’s seriously cozy, warm and bustling with eclectic atmosphere (making us want to stay for the weekend, or a whole week rather!). It is very prominent that The Pig is a ‘restaurant with rooms` as they say with so much focus on the fresh produce, the garden kitchen (open to the guests) and the prime setting for the foraging. The main restaurant, set within a Victorian greenhouse dining room, is complete with bare wood table tops and mismatched bone handled cutlery rustically enchanting.
The food, service and menu was excellent and although it was quite meat heavy (which is a bonus for some I am sure!), we still found delicious vegetarian, pescetarian and lighter meal options and you won’t get it more fresh than at The Pig. We can’t wait to book our weekend get-away.
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Make sure you book both the hotel and restaurant well in advance (the accommodation more so). Fancy trying some foraging during your stay? Book in some time with the forager, who will give a light-hearted and educational experience through the forest or along the coast findings, identifying and collecting wild edible food!