Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The Hurdles, Droxford

For lunch today, we visited The Hurdles, a small pub/restaurant in Droxford.  It was pretty busy for a Wednesday lunchtime, which is always a good sign.  They offered us an a la carte menu, a set menu and a baguette menu, so there was plenty of choice.  I went for the mussels (surprise surprise) with cider, apples, leeks and creme fraiche, Ian opted for the scallops of the day which came on a ham rilette with a buttery sauce and we also went for the black pudding with blue cheese and apple to share. My mussels were good, although they'd not done a very good job of de-bearding them which was a little disappointing, but the sauce was good, and it was nice to have something different to white wine and cream.  Ian's scallops were good, but he said that there was something in the rilette he didn't like, possibly mustard, and that the flavour of the rilette was a bit too overpowering for the scallops.  Ian manage to distract me with mussels, so he ate most of the third starter, but I had enough to tell you what I thought.  The black pudding and apple was really good, but the blue cheese was just too smelly and cheesy for me (I'm not a blue cheese fan) and I felt the flavour lasted too long compared to the other flavours.  The texture of the blue cheese was good though, nice and creamy. 

For mains, I went for the pork belly, with roast potatoes and red apple chutney.  Ian chose the sea bass which came on a bed of crushed new potatoes, crab and watercress, with lemon roasted fennel.  My pork was melt in the mouth good, it was the kind of good where you have to make someone else try it just so you can make 'ooh' and 'aah' noises together.  Ian didn't seem to mind helping with that at all! The chutney had a nice hint of cinnamon (which I recently discovered I didn't hate - it was the nutmeg all along!) and the gravy was nice and rich.  The crackling wasn't completely crispy, but was very tasty.  Ian was a bit disappointed with his potatoes, as it was more new potato mash than crushed potatoes and it seems like there was some spring onion in there somewhere.  I had three massive roast potatoes though, so I gave him half of them so he didn't go hungry.  His fish was very moist and flavoursome, and the asparagus was nicely cooked.  Ian wasn't sure he liked fennel but it turned out he did, and apparently so do I! 

After we'd finished our mains, they asked if we'd like dessert.  We've missed out on dessert so far this week, so I thought it was about time I got one, so I opted for the lemon posset, which came with berries and shortbread.  The shortbread was crumbly and buttery.  The posset lemony and the berries tart.  

So, food wise, I'd definitely recommend this place.  The only thing I'd do differently if it was my restaurant would be to tell the one waitress that her voice was too loud for her to complain about the rubbish tips the customer just left her and that she should also stop making a mountain out of a molehill (she kept apologising to all the customers because it was crazy busy - when there wasn't really any wait between courses and noone was even complaining!)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Le Blaireau, Carey's Manor Hotel, Brockenhurst

One of our favourite venues so far is Carey's Manor in Brockenhurst.  This hotel boasts 3 restaurants on site, the Manor Restaurant, a Thai Restaurant - Zen Garden, and a French Bistro - Le Blaireau.  We decided to have lunch at the latter today, and although the outside is needing a bit of a fix-up, the inside is well decorated and nicely laid out.  The waiters were very attentive and friendly.  Ian ordered the snails to start, and I opted for the goats cheese parcel with apple and parma ham.  The snails were nice and garlicy, a bit slimy but they are snails after all.  Ian enjoyed them but I think he would have liked a few more (there were 6 or 7).  My starter was delicious.  I'm unsure what the pastry was on the goats cheese parcel but it was light and crumbly and tasted really good.  There were some fried apple slices to accompany it, and some shredded apple on the top of the salad garnish.  It was well presented and went down well.   

For mains, Ian ordered the duck in plum sauce, served with dauphinoise potatoes and I ordered the trout with new potatoes and a melted butter and lemon sauce.  Ian is always worried about onion in the dauphinoise, so we swapped potatoes, which I was happy with because I love dauphinoise potatoes very much!  Ians duck was succulent and tasty and the side order of fries that he ate most of were nice and crispy.  My fish was in fact an entire fish, and I struggled to get round the bones, but I soon got the hang of it.  The butter and lemon was amazing and really worked with the fish.  They dauphinoise was extremely tasty.  

Again we didn't have room, or time for dessert.  I'm really pleased that we ventured into this restaurant.  We were not disappointed and it really beat our expectations. 

The Queens Head, Fishers Pond

Ian and I have a week off.  That means we're eating out.  Hopefully lots! Our first meal out of our holiday was at The Queens Head, in Fishers Pond.  They don't have a website so we were unsure what kind of food would be on offer.  The menu was typical pub food with a few extras.  Ian and I opted for the fondue to start, with a hoisin duck salad as well (as we do like our starters).  Mum didn't go for one, which I think she regretted after we took forever with ours! The fondue was really good, it really made me want to come home and get our fondue set (never used) out.  The hoisin duck salad confused us, the first mouthful was totally unexpected as it was chilled, and both Ian and I were expecting it to be warm.  It was tasty but it really would have been better with a bit of warmth.  

For mains, we all opted for their 'sizzlers', something new to Mum, but something Ian and I regularly had at his local pub up in York.  For those not in the know, it basically comes on a very hot skillet and continues to sizzle for most of the meal.  Ian ordered the ultimate sizzler, which came with a steak, a chicken breast, chicken wings and garlic and herb prawn skewers.  Mum and I went for the surf and turf sizzlers, which was just the steak and prawns.  The menu mentioned that the steak was served on a bed of onions and peppers, I'd imagine this is done to stop the steak burning.  As Ian hates both of these, we asked for his without.  Unfortunately, they got a bit confused and gave him onions and peppers and Mum none, but they did a quick swap and I think it all turned out OK.  The chips were nice, my steak was well cooked, although disappointingly it did have a big vein down the middle which makes me a little sad, but I ate round it.  

We couldn't manage dessert, and there wasn't a vast number of desserts on the menu anyway, only four I think.  It was a nice meal, plenty of food, well priced and a large restaurant, so likely to find a table even on busier nights.  They also have lots of outside seating which would be nice in the summer. 

The White Horse, Ampfield

As well as planning our wedding, Ian has also been working on IBM's annual Blue Fusion event, which runs during National Science Week and offers 64 schools the opportunity to play 8 activities/games designed and made by IBMers.  The event finished on Thursday, so after tidying up on Friday morning, some of the team took the chance for a well earned rest, in The White Horse in Ampfield.  Ian and I both choose the Fish Platter on their fish specials board, 4 different types of fish, scallops and prawns, all in a creamy white wine sauce.  Ian chose the chips and vegetables, I chose the saute potatoes and wilted spinach.  I cannot fault the food at all, the fish was all good, and there was plenty of it.  I'd probably have liked more than one scallop but it was a really tasty scallop, and they kept on the orange part that most restaurants discard.  The rest of our party seemed to enjoy their food also, there were two meat pies, which were well received as they were 'proper' pies (entirely encased in pastry instead of just a pie top).  There was also sausage and mash ordered, the mash being mountain high accompanied by plenty of gravy (and sausages of course!) 

We decided going back to work was a bad idea, so we also ordered some desserts, Ian opting for the profiteroles, and my choice was the pavlova.  I must say, it was the weirdest pavlova I've ever eaten - it had meringue (key ingredient really) but on top of that was chocolate and then some sort of jam/coulis with some strawberry cream on top, with some fresh strawberries stuck into it, all served with a few fresh raspberries and a jug of double cream.  I'd eat it again, it was nice and there was plenty of it, but I'm not a big fan of chocolate and fruit (unless it's something like a fondue or chocolate fountain).  Ian's profiteroles disappeared in seconds and he had a healthy smearing of chocolate round his mouth, so I'll wager he enjoyed them. 

We've eaten here before but I never got as far as reviewing it, but I think the general conclusion was that the food was good, although a tad on the expensive side.  I'd say this time, the mains we ordered were quite well priced for the amount of fish we received and as I made Ian buy the desserts, I'd say they were great value for money!