Summer’s a great time to shake it up a little and try something new. So why not start by trying a different place to eat and discovering a whole new cuisine?
It’s not for nothing that the magical New Forest is known as a Foodie’s Paradise – it’s one of the reasons our Taste the New Forest event is taking place all this year, to showcase the amazing local food and produce from this part of the world.
And this produce is also being crafted into some wonderful dishes, covering the world’s greatest culinary heritage.
Start your foodie tour in Thailand at The Zen Garden at Carey’s Manor in Brockenhurst. The restaurant’s chefs have famously nailed the delicate flavours and tastes of this beautiful country - think lemongrass and kaffir lime - all served in authentically calm and tranquil, Thai-inspired surroundings.
Move on to India at the newly re-decorated Surma Valley at Burgate near Fordingbridge. Outside it’s a chocolate-box cottage but inside the sights and scents will transport you to the mighty sub-continent, including delights such as chicken or lam begum bahar, cooked with pomegranate juice, ginger, yoghurt and garlic, or sea bass modhu. Not sure what to choose? The staff will be only too happy to help you!
If you’d like to try Italian you’ll be spoiled for choice. You can’t go wrong with Hartnett Holder & Co at Lime Wood near Brockenhurst. A relaxed, stylish and comfortable upscale restaurant, Angela Hartnett, Lime Wood’s Luke Holder and their team, create locally sourced English dishes with a respectful nod to the seasons and to Italian culinary beliefs.
Enzee Ristorante & Pizzeria in the same Brockenhurst village offers the best of traditional Italian and European cuisine to get you started or, if you’re down by the coast, sample the menu at Ray’s Italian Kitchen in Milford on Sea, where restauranteur Stacey Couch lays on a feast of favourites for lunch, dinner and brunch.
Swing by to Sunnyfields Farm near Totton in the Forest’s east, for some sensational pizzas, fresh from the wood-fired oven at Pyramid Field and don’t forget to check out Aubrey’s Forest Kitchen at Sandy Balls near Fordingbridge for more gourmet pizzas and plenty of Hampshire ales!
French food – and a tres authentique atmosphere - can be found at Le Blaireau at Carey’s Manor, offering traditional brasserie fare as well as a selection of well-considered wines.
As you’d expect, French inspired food crops up at a number of New Forest establishments, especially at the formal splendour of the five-star Chewton Glen at New Milton, where everything from spatchcock poussin to Dover Sole is on the menu.
But, for many, British is always best and with menus bursting with choice, plus some beautiful places to eat, take your pick from the following.
Staying at the Chewton Glen, did you know that their Kitchen restaurant serves fab food in a more relaxed setting, with the added chance of seeing what’s going on in their cooking school through the glass windows?
Don’t forget The Pig at Brockenhurst – their 25-mile menu is as legendary as their Insta-worthy hospitality and dining facilities; inside their giant greenhouse, or outside on the terraces.
Then there’s Beresfords Restaurant at the Balmer Lawn in Brockenhurst – they specialise in game but you’ll find some great British dishes with a modern twist and the chance to take in some of the best forest sights from their restaurant and terrace.
More light but rustic food is on offer at the New Park Manor and Forest Park Hotel, both in Brockenhurst, which specialise in great British dishes, too, with New Park Manor putting on extra special menus for little ones.
For a truly beautiful setting – as well as knowing that as much of your food as possible is organic, try The Old Mill. As the river slides quietly by, you’ll be treated to a host of scrumptious dishes to while away a lunch or evening dinner in the comfort of knowing that everything they serve is made from scratch.
Similar care is given at The Terrace Restaurant at the Montagu Arms at Beaulieu, where you’ll dine with a fine view of their exquisite garden, as well have some of the New Forest’s best wines to choose from. For something simpler, pop next door to Monty’s Inn where they’ll serve you English favourites, from game pies to a cheese ploughman’s and a rather superior burger. If you decide to stand outside at the front for a summer drink, you may even be lucky to see the friendly roaming donkeys who love wandering round the area.
For more British classics, our country pubs are the perfect locations to visit and lucky for you, there’s a huge selection to choose from. Head to the 17th century thatched pub in Lyndhurst, Waterloo Arms, or try The Trusty Servant Inn in the beautiful village of Minstead. Or enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner at The Rockingham Arms, a cosy village pub full of character.
And finally, for a gourmet experience like no other, book yourself into one of Ritual Feast’s legendary diners, as seen on James Martin's Islands to Highlands TV show last year.
Ritual Feast create fire cooked banquets and their open kitchen at a secret Forest location provides real atmosphere. Huge cuts of premium produce, slow cooked in front of you reflect their culinary style which is Argentinian asado and flavours drawn from Latin America and Asia, the perfect place to finish your Forest foodie tour! Ritual Feast are now fully booked for the 2021 summer season, but keep an eye out for more future dates to book.
More info here thenewforest.co.uk.