The Pig is a picture-perfect restaurant with rooms in the New Forest. After a recent stay at Lime Wood, we visited for lunch before heading back to London.
The Pig’s pull, apart from as a backdrop for endless photo opportunities, is its 25 Mile Menu. And much of their produce comes from their own stately grounds. They keep pigs, chickens and quails, they have an on-site smoker, they forage, and keep a well-stocked kitchen garden with fruit cages.
The setting is a Boden photo shoot waiting to happen. The Pig is immensely handsome. A sweeping driveway draws you towards an immaculate mansion house. The interior is all bay windows, squashy sofas with gay cushions, grand gilt mirrors and Victorian chequerboard flooring.
I half expected the large front door to swing open and reveal a young Nigel Havers, in a 20s period drama, clad in tennis whites ready for a game. It’s wholesome and handsome and oh-so-very British.
The visual loveliness continues into the restaurant, which is housed in a restored glasshouse, complete with tumbling plants, mismatched shabby-chic floor tiles and doors flung open to the kitchen garden.
And so, on to the food. The menu is a delight, impishly categorised by headings like, ‘Piggy Bits’ and ‘Literally Picked This Morning’.
Local makers are named and celebrated, such as “Mr Bartlett’s chipolatas,” “Sopley Farm asparagus” and “James Golding’s smoked salmon” (the latter being the Head Chef of The Pig, referring to his endeavours at the smokery housed in the grounds).
There are great and unusual dishes on the menu, including a Bath chap. A touch Simon Hopkinson, a touch Fergus Henderson.
I ate Asparagus and Goat’s Cheese on Sourdough Toast to start. Humble ingredients transformed into something really delicious due to their freshness.
I moved on to the Elephant Garlic Scapes and Pancetta Risotto. A little too light on the pancetta for my liking – it was wafer thin and almost melting into the risotto –
but still an artful, delicious plate of food.
Sartre had the Greenford Farm Pork Fillet in Vegetable Broth with Toasted Hazelnuts.
|Suppliers of The Pig's 25 Mile Menu|
The food is undeniably fresh, thoughtfully sourced and thoughtfully prepared. Indeed, The Pig is faultless in idea and execution.
But, somehow, it’s a bit too pleased with itself to be entirely likeable. A bit self-conscious, a little too primped and preened. I admit to being exceptionally picky to find this fault, but something didn’t work for me. The Pig has the feel of a place on best behavior. The restaurant equivalent of Emma Watson, perhaps.