Chocolate and black olive marshmallow with fennel ice cream, anyone?
Where? The Dining Room at Lime Wood, Beaulieu Rd, Lyndhurst, Hampshire SO43 7FZ (02380 287167, www.limewoodhotel.co.uk)
Not too hard to work out what goes on in here, then? A non-formal, formal dining room, top chef Luke Holder presides over Lime Wood’s destination restaurant, while next door’s Scullery is the alternative option for those looking for something a little more laidback.
‘Non-formal formal’, what does that mean when it’s at home? There were plenty of jacket-and-tie clad gentlemen with equally immaculate wives when we visited and the presentation of the food is just as well turned out, but thankfully ‘stuffy’ isn’t on the menu and no one’s going to throw you out if you arrive in jeans.
OK, outfit sorted, what about the food? Locally sourced ingredients are key with seasonal dishes changing regularly. If you call by for lunch, there’s even a special ‘seasonal’ three-course menu (£26) or four-course mini tasting menu (£29). Those feeling more adventurous, or just plain hungry, can enjoy an eight-course tasting menu for £65 or three-course dinner for £50.
And on all these menus? Hand-dived Portland Bay scallops with cauliflower, wild garlic and almonds makes an extremely tasty starter, although when a Garden Salad of frog legs, snails, nettles and wild garlic is on the menu, only the really dull would skip the option. Mains of line-caught halibut fillet with Poole Bay cockle and chorizo dressing, or Warborne Farm organic lamb with broad beans, peas and rainbow chard really showcase the local credentials of the kitchen.
For dessert? From the traditional – warm chocolate fondant with banana and pistachio ice cream – to the unusual – dark chocolate and black olive marshmallow with fennel ice cream – via the sublime – ultra-light passion fruit soufflé – we’d challenge anyone not to be delighted.
Need to know? The Dining Room is closed on Mondays, but open for lunch, dinner and afternoon tea throughout the rest of the week.