London is great, love it – I wouldn’t live here otherwise, but every now and then it’s good to clear the lungs and head out to the countryside. And this little piggy recently went on a stonker of a day trip to Brockenhurst to check out The Pig, which is located right in the heart of The New Forest National Park.
After an easy hour-and-a-half train commute, with a few other bloggers, followed by a 5 min cab drive, we reached our gorgeously impressive destination. As soon as you step inside the revamped 17th Century building, a lovely homely feel immediately warms you. The style is rustic, shabby chic with mismatched furniture, which is done well with real attention to detail – the environment is relaxed and welcoming and actually rather special.
We dined in the Victorian-designed greenhouse area, which shed buckets of light through the glass ceiling. For the colder months approaching there’s a roaring open fire just waiting to be cosied up to. Head Chef James Golding, previously of Le Caprice, J sheekey and Soho House NY, oversees the very seasonal ‘25 Mile Menu’, sourcing much of the produce from their walled garden kitchen, smokery, fruit cage, chicken and pig houses. This means they can be about 90% self-sufficient in summer and roughly 70% in winter. When they do have to get produce from outside it’s from within a 25-mile radius. Much of the food is picked that morning and part of the menu is decided then too, depending on what’s been foraged.
The menu isn’t showy and it needn’t be with such seasonal, fresh produce. It’s just simple British grub, done exceptionally well. We kicked off with a selection of ‘Piggy Bits’: Pork Crackling; Mini Hampshire Chorizo and Salami Sticks; Chipolatas; and Brock Eggs. The stand out of these was most definitely the Brock Eggs – like a ‘scotch egg’, but with pulled ham hock instead of sausage meat encasing a delicate quail egg – extremely morish, and balanced nicely with a sweet mustard dressing.
Sticking with the pig theme, I chose more porky delights for starters in the form of Crispy Pork Belly with Pickled Fennel Salad. The Tamworth pig is gloriously shown off here, crammed full of flavour and intensely meaty. As The Pig isn’t just about its meat, many dishes include sea food from the Solent, so for main I opted for something less piggy and went for Hake with Pickled Samphire. It was a refined, elegant dish that confidently delivered. An apple crumble dessert was the comforting end to a fabulous meal. I proper pigged out at The Pig – it’s hard not to, so a tour around the site after dinner with Golding guiding us around was most welcome.
The Pig calls itself a restaurant with rooms because its focus is all about the food, but it does boast 26 bedrooms – 16 in the main house, and 10 in the stable yard. They have 3 other hotels: The Pig in the Wall; The Pig near Bath which is due to open Feb 2014; and The Pig on the Beach, which will be opening soon.
The year isn’t done yet, but I’m gonna put it out there and say it’s my place of 2013, highly recommend. It’s a fabulous eating day out for all, well, unless you’re vegetarian!
Return travel from London waterloo, non-peak, is about £27.
Rooms are from £129, not including breakfast.
Starters are from £5-£8, mains £14-£19 and desserts £7.
Food I Fancy was a guest of The Pig.
Hampshire, SO42 7QL
Tel: 0845 0779 494