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Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst
From the ivy-meshed Georgian house ringed by New Forest oak to the racks of wellies and rooms furnished like an antique country pile, everything about the laid-back Pig feels just right. At its heart is a “charming” glass-roofed restaurant with a suitably horticultural vibe, while the enthusiastic kitchen is fed by seasonal bounty from a productive walled garden, polytunnels, a smokehouse and the local countryside (courtesy of a resident forager). Expect “creative, slightly rustic, on-trend food” from a menu full of artisan treats: honey and mustard chipolatas feature among the moreish ‘piggy bits’; ‘walled garden’ fritters are served with wild garlic mayo; New Forest mushrooms pop up everywhere, and fish might include whole plaice on the bone with pink fir potatoes and brown butter sauce. For afters, the lemon and basil posset with macerated strawberries has bags of seasonal oomph. Alternatively, pizza-style flatbreads are served from the wood-fired oven on the terrace (no need to book). The weighty wine list is stuffed with unusual bottles, while cocktails include zany concoctions served in Kilner jars. “Great service” also gets the nod.
SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK 2018 is compiled using votes from our annual survey, last conducted in spring 2018. Thousands of readers took part and the results were moderated by SquareMeal’s editor and his nationwide team of professional reviewers. The UK survey does not include any restaurants in London. Click here for the full list of SquareMeal’s Best Restaurants in the UK.
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Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst
Brockenhurst Station 2km
Beaulieu Road Station 3km
Roundhill Caravan & Camping 542m
Brockenhurst Manor Golf Club 4km
Mon-Sat 12N-2.30pm Sun 12.30-3pm Mon-Sun 7-10pm
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 2
Another imposing manor in the New Forest, and a good conservatory dining room. Like the bubbly glasses, the table and chairs, as well as the cutlery, seemed to have been rather self-consciously mismatched, presumably to give a semblance of relaxed casualness, which also appeared in the friendly but less than expert service. Despite the odd glasses, the fizz was fine, and a reasonable price, and a good match for the "piggy bits" the four of us chose as amuse bouches, in particular very crackly pork crackling, the soft pig's ears, and the salami and chorizo sticks. Surprisingly, given the name, there was very little on the menu in the way of starters or mains that reflected the porcine bias one would have expected. We decided to ignore the starters, and I opted for a pork chop, which was large and succulent, and the other choices were a large tender rib-eye steak and the fairly ungenerous and slightly gunky venison casserole which gave the impression that it had been thickened with flour. The desserts, an unattractive apple tart, a segment of custard tart carelessly arranged on the plate, and steamed ginger sponge with pear supposedly for two but barely enough, were almost acceptable but again the size of portions was unequal. Coffee was taken in the lounge, without the offer of any petits fours, and we found our coats in the hall as we left, having split the not particularly competitive bill down the middle.
Food + drink: 5
Whilst this review is only of the restaurant, I stayed overnight at the Pig and all I can say is go there! As a short break from busy London life you could not ask for more. It's secluded, tranquil and just utterly relaxing. The rooms are very spacious (you could fit 5 people in the shower easily…) and have a gorgeous country feel to them. There is a beautiful drawing room to relax in and an outside area which is covered and around a roaring log fire, so lovely to sit out in even in the winter.
Onto the meal – the main restaurant in the Pig is based in a huge conservatory. Everything is wood and candles, with potted herbs placd on tables. You just know straight away that the Pig prides itself on local produce and quality food. As the waitress told us, everything is grown in their gardens or sourced within a 20 mile radius. In some places this could feel like a gimmick but you just don't get that with the Pig. You feel straight away liked you've wandered into (an albeit, glamorous) farm house kitchen. Before starters on the menu there are ‘Piggy Bits’ which are all little h'ordeurves made from, you guessed it, pig. I say just get one of everything – they're all absolutely divine!
I couldn't fault the starter, main or dessert. All the ingredients, not surprisingly, tasted fresh and of superb quality. We were a party of 3, everyone had something different and we all couldn't find fault and were bowled over by the taste. The portions were perfect and the pacing of the meal was absolutely spot on. Staff were knowledgeable, friendly and seemed to absolutely love and thrive working there.
I challenge anyone to be disappointed by the Pig – it's an absolute pleasure.
Food + drink: 4
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.
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