The PIG Hotel
Restaurant review: The PIG Hotel (restaurant with rooms)
Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7QL; 01590 622354
Aside from new openings, I’ve pretty much exhausted the restaurants of Bournemouth over the past four years running this website – and I’m happy to say my first foray out of town was a massive success.
THE PIG is a restaurant/hotel walking distance from Brockenhurst station and I’m amazed I haven’t heard of it before. It truly is a country gem, easily accessible but tucked away enough to make you feel like you are a million miles from the beach.
Chef James Golding and Head Chef Dan Gover oversee the menu and James very kindly gave me a tour ‘backstage’. Beyond the huge kitchen, there is a greenhouse, kitchen garden, beehive, even a smokehouse for them to cure their own meats. And you can see some of those ingredients from your bedroom window too – chicken and pigs are reared on site, there’s edible wildflowers and an orchard, plenty of mushrooms to be foraged (more on that later).
“We’re very proud of the fact that we are a sustainable restaurant, a sustainable hotel and, now, a sustainable chain of hotels,” James said. “The staff are more invested in the products as they have more control and say over how it is produced, start to finish.”
I also wasn’t aware that there is more than one PIG – see www.thepighotel.com for a full list. What’s more, another outpost in Honiton, Devon, is due to open next year.
All four of THE PIG restaurants have won awards. The Brockenhurst team were named Best UK Holiday Hotel in the Condé Nast Traveller Reader Awards and one of the Telegraph’s top 25 cosy hotels for Autumn.
They are also recognised for the aforementioned green initiatives and rightly so. The NRA Awards named them Sustainable Hotel Restaurant of the Year and they were also named Best Countryside Hotel by Condé Nast Johansens.
And no wonder – ingredients are seasonal and sourced from as nearby as possible – often on the actual premises. Everything is sourced within a 25 mile radius, if it can’t be produced themselves.
Onto the food! I’ve never ordered a starter with a name like ‘Piggy Bits’ (£3.75) but they were delicious, crackling-style pieces with black pudding balls, smoked chipolatas and onions. Fiery but lovely!
Mains of course change daily and you can be as adventurous as you like, in the safe hands of THE PIG kitchen. Examples include fish, such as Dorset Coast Pollock Fillet served with Hampshire Chorizo, Braised Pearl Barley and Dorset Cockles (£17); or New Forest Wood Pigeon served with foraged oyster mushrooms, mash and sloe sauce (£14).
However, I was feeling a little wiped out after a long journey (sorry, all) and the team very kindly whipped me up a delectable, simple medium steak. It still had a slice of THE PIG flair – the ‘Crispy Tobacco Onions’ on the side were delicious, light and with enough flavour to bring the meat to life without overwhelming it.
Desserts are old favourites with a flavour of THE PIG flair; such as chocolate torte with a touch of earl grey; or lemon posset with a hint of basil and shortbread, served with locally sourced strawberries.
As James mentioned, staff are passionate about their food and happy to share their knowledge with guests. Through the Autumn you can even join the team to forage for fruits, nuts and berries. You then head to the coast for seaweed and shellfish – you may even be foraging for your own dinner!
The hotel itself offers the luxury of a London five-star – Nespresso machines, power showers, fabulous four-posters – with the soothing charm of a country retreat. With just 26 bedrooms, many converted barns, you get a lot of space and a truly personalised service. Which I really appreciated, feeling a little under the weather.
I will definitely return with a more adventurous dining partner to investigate further! It can imagine what a romantic retreat it will be by winter…
You can book a table, spa treatment or room online at: https://www.thepighotel.com/book/?hotel=FOREST
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