SquareMeal Review of The Avenue at Lainston House
The beautiful oak-panelled dining room within this charming 17th-century hotel in Winchester has all the trimmings of grandeur – heavy leather chairs, well-dressed tables, and a lovely view of the lime tree-lined avenue after which it is named. As a counterbalance, excellent, friendly service makes the place approachable, giving it an elegant intimacy. The real reason to visit, however, is chef Olly Rouse’s cooking, which is completely market-led and ingredient-inspired. Calling on home-grown produce from the kitchen garden, as well as what’s available from the area, his menu may include a feisty sea bream with mushroom, black pudding and garden herbs, or duck with sweetcorn, shiitake, dandelion and pear. Presentation is pretty as a picture and the wine list designed to help while away a pleasurable afternoon or evening.
About The Avenue at Lainston House
Part of the five-star country house Lainston Hotel, The Avenue is a smart and elegant restaurant which is named after the mile-long avenue of lime trees that guests can see from the dining room.
The Avenue is a sophisticated space, but doesn’t feel overly pompous. Wood-panelled walls and heavy drapes speak to tradition, but touches such as the soft patterned carpet and cosy fireplace help to make things a little homey too. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, while a classic afternoon tea is also available.
Avenue’s menu is driven by seasonality, which means it changes every few months. Nonetheless, you can always expect a refined selection of carefully sourced seafood and meat dishes. From the selection of starters, you might find Chalkstream trout with beetroot, yuzu, horseradish and cucumber or perhaps celeriac topped with truffle and caramelised white chocolate.
Main courses might include the likes of halibut with crab and cauliflower, lamb shoulder with mint or Cornish cod with chicken skin, cep and artichoke. To round off your meal, choose between a cheese board served with crackers and sourdough, or sweeter options such as salted chocolate mousse with marshmallow, and apple tart with caramel and custard.
For special occasions when you are looking to treat yourself, opt for The Avenue’s six-course tasting menu, which represents a ‘greatest hits’ of the current menu. There is a dedicated vegetarian tasting menu too, so that anyone at your table who doesn’t eat meat won’t feel left out.
On the weekends, head to The Avenue for a sumptuous Sunday lunch. This family-friendly affair sees classic roasts being served, with options to choose from including smoked pork belly and roast sirloin of beef. You can expect all of the usual trimmings such as Yorkshire pudding and beef fat potatoes, while veggie diners can order risotto with shitake mushrooms.