Reviewed by Angela Paull
On a gloriously sunny late October day we were lucky enough to visit The Huntsman of Brockenhurst for lunch and check out their new seasonal Autumn/Winter menu.
Brockenhurst is a pretty village in the middle of The New Forest and The Huntsman is located on the main road running through it, so very easy to find. It has a decent size car park and a stunning garden which makes it the perfect all year-round destination, whether you’re visiting by car or bicycle.
The interior is warm and cosy with a clever mismatch of metal and wooden furniture and you also get a bird’s eye view of the chefs in action. Our 6-year-old was especially fascinated by the wood fired pizza oven!
So far so good – but what’s the food like? The pizza oven is a big clue to one of their specialities – they’re known for pizza and steaks – but the new menu offers several tastier treats to really get your mouth watering.
For younger diners there was a 3-course menu to choose from. Printed on a sheet which offered colouring and puzzles this kept Lucas occupied immediately (and he was chuffed to have such a range of coloured crayons to choose from). It only took him a moment to see the words dough balls and pepperoni pizza and he was sold! Full marks too for getting his starter out as soon as it was ready, and not waiting to serve it with the adults’ starters. There’s nothing parents appreciate more than having their ravenous monsters catered for quickly!
So whilst the small person was able to make some speedy decisions it took us adults a little longer! The menu had sufficient choice that there would be something to suit even the pickiest of eaters! We decided on starters of Caramelised Onion, Thyme & Cider soup and Pork & Chorizo Scotch Egg followed by the Lamb Shoulder Shepherd’s Pie and 8oz Rib Eye Steak.
The soup was light and creamy in colour with an enormous cheesy topped crouton in the middle. It was gloriously flavoured, the onions were tender and the bread for the crouton was dark and topped with a tasty mature cheddar – the perfect winter warmer. I did have a spot of starter envy though when I saw my fiancé’s Scotch Egg – served with a red pepper tapenade it looked so inviting that I had to steal a bite myself. The egg was soft, the chorizo finely minced and perfectly seasoned – it literally melted in the mouth.
Moving on to the main event and the Shepherd’s Pie looked and smelt delicious. Topped with a lightly golden cheddar mash which covered succulent chunks of lamb cosseted in a warming sauce it really was the perfect classic autumn comfort food – a real belly and soul warmer – and the pickled cabbage was a revelation. Crunchy with just the right amount of tartness it really was the perfect accompaniment.
As for the steak it was clear to see why this is a speciality. Cooked in a Josper Charcoal oven it was reassuringly pink in the middle, full of subtle smoky flavour and fell apart on eating. Served with massive tripled cooked chips, which were just the right combination of crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, a field mushroom and tomato this was a classic steak dinner on a plate.
Thankfully we still had a tiny corner left that needed filling with dessert. Our server, Kerr, recommended the Chocolate Brownie and, as this was also an option on the child’s menu, Lucas and I were happy to take his advice whilst my fiancé was swayed by the Baked Vanilla Cheesecake. The brownie was gooey, chocolatey heaven and the cheesecake a perfectly light finale. I especially loved the shards of honeycomb that were served with both. It’s these little details that really sum up the dining experience at The Huntsman – classic dishes with individual touches that elevate them above the norm standing alongside reworked classics and new tongue tingling temptations. If this was my local I think I’d be there every weekend until I’d tried every single item on the menu!
Special mention must also be made of the staff – Kerr was attentive, friendly and it felt like nothing was too much trouble but also every other member of staff was equally impressive. The service was slick and seamless and as soon as tables were vacated they were being tidied and re-set. This will definitely become our go to eatery whenever we visit The New Forest and I’m already looking forward to enjoying that garden during the warmer months!
Faultless excellence, highly recommended.
For more information, to view menus or to make a booking visit thehuntsmanofbrockenhurst.com.
The Huntsman of Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst Rd, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7ZB