The Pig at Brockenhurst
The other weekend saw my folks reach a milestone in their marriage. No my father did not suddenly discover where the hoover was kept, nor did Mum actually let someone else do the washing up for a change. No, this weekend was their fortieth wedding anniversary.
My parents are based just outside the New Forest and after much pondering with my brother as to where to take them as a special treat, it was finally decided that The Pig at Brockenhurst was the chosen destination. A couple of friends had been before and raved about it so our expectations were high. So, on the Saturday we set off as a family of six-and-a-half to the depths of the New Forest for what promised to be a meal extravaganza.
Upon arrival at the restaurant-come-hotel you can’t help but be impressed with its grand exterior. It’s almost like going into someone's house; you know you’ll have to take your shoes off once you’re inside. Anyway, I digress. Relieved we didn’t have to take shoes off, we were taken to our seat in the conservatory part of the restaurant. The whole feel of the place is mis-matched in a good way. The hickle-de-pickle-de-ness of the furniture and the rows and rows of herbs adorning the tables and windows give it a homely feel. Despite there being a number of tables close to each other you don’t feel crammed in.
First impressions were good. Next to impress was the menu. Now, we had done some research before coming and knew The Pig was keen on local produce – a number of items on the menu are grown on site, but it was the display of ingredients on the reverse of the menu that really hit home as to how locally orientated they actually are. A map of the local area depicts where the cheeses, meats, fish and vegetables have all come from, and all from within a 25 mile radius.
We began the meal with a few tapas-style 'piggy bit' dishes including crackling with apple sauce, black pudding balls and some sausage roll which served as a tasty aperitif to our main courses.
I should say that the customer service was off to a great start right from the word go, being pregnant I had a few questions about some of the ingredients. The waitress tootled off to speak with the chef, promptly coming back with a whole tale of what was suitable to eat and what wasn’t – this attention to detail ran through the entire lunch and was, I have to say, much appreciated. One less thing to think about.
Slightly overwhelmed by the choice available I’m afraid to say that somehow between six of us we managed to only choose three different main dishes out of the possible ten. The chosen dishes being Hake, Crab and Game Pie. I, along with my Mum had the crab with triple cooked chips and thoroughly enjoyed it – the crab was fresh, as the menu had promised, it was meaty and packed full of seaside-y flavour. The triple cooked chips went down a treat too.
The Hake which my Dad and sister-in-law had was reportedly light and fluffy. My brother found the game pie a bit too rich, but not sure what he was expecting to be honest, what with game being notoriously rich in flavour. Rich loved the gravy to the pie and its richness. His standard debate did however ensue, a pie with no base is merely a casserole with a pastry lid, he likes a pie to have a pastry base to soak up the juices.
All in all though the main meals went down a treat.
After a short while to digest the mains, the dessert menu was bought over. I have to admit I did struggle to find anything that wet my appetite to start with, but finally settled on the trifle while the others opted for a local cheese board, the wobbliest pannacota (mint mousse), New Forest strawberry cheesecake and iced raspberry and white chocolate terrine. The trifle was just the right size, not too sweet and not too big. The bitterness of the blueberries gave it a freshness that cut through its richness. After dessert, the waiter bought over complimentary champers as congratulations on the folk's wedding anniversary - now who isn’t going to take to a place which openly offers free bubbly!!
Despite a wee mishap with a misplaced umbrella as we were leaving, our overall experience was extremely welcoming, relaxing and refreshing. If you can leave an establishment feeling satisfied without having to undo your trouser button, you’re onto a winner. Which is exactly how we all felt. Just as well as we were heading out for a trek in the forest!!
If you’re ever in the New Forest and fancy a treat do pop by The Pig. Be warned though, their reputation means they get booked up quickly, so you’ll need to book in plenty of time.
Check out their website at www.thepighotel.com