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“Best for lunch on a warm day in the garden” says a fan of this reconfigured and rebranded Hampshire inn with pretty grounds backing onto the namesake river Test. Inside, it’s all low beams, wood floors, antique furniture and wood-burners, with a promising restaurant attached. The kitchen bakes its own bread and coaxes the best out of top-drawer ingredients – perhaps devilled duck livers on toast or oak-smoked chicken with sweetcorn pannacotta and ‘nduja, ahead of cannon of lamb with salt-baked artichoke, capers, freekeh and sprouting broccoli or pan-fried cod with curried celeriac, mango salsa, spiced salt cod and puffed rice. There are steaks, grilled fish and burgers too, followed by deceptively simple desserts such as salted caramel tart with cocoa and yoghurt sorbet. This is unbuttoned but “precise” modern cooking, matched by “warm, laid-back service”. Breakfasts, Sunday roasts, top-notch wines and seven individually designed bedrooms (plus a further three in the ‘leet’ cottage) complete a package that “never disappoints”.
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