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|Address:||Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7QL|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm Sun 12.30-3pm Mon-Sun 7-10pm|
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Our second visit here at a busy lunch-time today and I guess that the fact that the place was almost full when we walked in for our reservation not long after 1pm on a cold day out of season tells that this place is held in some esteem. Its a pleasant place to sit for an hour or two-though see below. Everything is fashionably mismatched and “broncante” and the dining room is a large conservatory complete with plant trays . Much of what they serve is grown on site or locally.
I'd imagine that most people would describe the food as a fusion of “bistro” and “gastropub ” with a few contemporary and sometimes quite innovative twists. My starter of a light but creamy risotto with wild garlic and topped with Italian air-dried beef is a case in point . It was frankly delicious ( as was the bread we ate with it) and quite an unusual and lighter than expected combination. My main of slow -braised beef was fine, but it was a dish I've eaten a lot and there didn't appear to be anything particularly unusual about this version- certainly nicely textured and pleasantly flavoured, but maybe lacking the intensity that slow cooked beef at its very best offers. My wife thought her pork escalopes were soundly good cooking and much enjoyed her poached rhubarb and jelly-based dessert. My cheese was served at the right temperature and for a group of local cheeses, they could easily have been French. They did however send with it some dull and flavourless hexagonal crackers that seem almost ubiquitous despite tasting of nothing at all. Some of the bread praised above would have been much nicer.
A word about the wine list. Its massive, interesting and fortunately they don't enclose it in a big heavy book that makes choosing a bottle a little like choosing a wallpaper from sample books. The list is long , and oddly it isn't arranged either by geography or by price, so deciding on a couple of wines was a bit of a mission. Lots of quite unusual stuff in there.
As with the first time we ate at The Pig, the service started off paced about right and slowed up as the meal went on. three courses and coffee for four of us took not far short of 3 hours , and whilst we used that ime comfortably enough talking with friends there were times near the end when we were actively looking for staff aand feeling it was getting slow. The wait staff we had- and it seemed to be several, were polite and bright.
Overall it was a good meal, and there's evidence that they can cook as well and as interestingly as some places with a star that we're happy to go to. The bill, at a little over £90 per couple was about right for what we had. We'll certainly go back , though its a way from home and our biggest caveat would be how often we're in the area, where there are other restaurants worth a try too.