Restaurant Review: The Huntsman of Brockenhurst, The New Forest in Hampshire
Growing up in the New Forest I could recommend a pub or two; The Rose and Crown in Brockenhurst was not one of them. Previously a tired, overlooked pub with dated décor and cranberry carpets I ventured into once. Located conveniently a short walk from the station directly connected to London, it was about time this venue was put back on the map.
Re-opening in March 2016 with its new and improved persona of ‘The Huntsman’, this brasserie complete with 13 rooms – all aptly named after animals you may find in the forest, has since attracted locals and those further afield to one of the latest reinvented spots in the area.
Curiously we walk in and at first it seems quiet until making our way around and into the expanse of the main restaurant. Certainly, a distinctive look, The Huntsman looks more like the New Forest’s alternative to Soho House but without quite the audience to match. A £1 million makeover funnelling into this new look, the re-design features hexagonal tiling, copper piping with an amalgamation of muted tones with vivid and contemporary furnishings.
Although a contradictory bricolage of components it seems well received and we are greeted promptly by the enthusiastic manager who seats us by the window. Focusing on ingredients with quality flavour, aside from the starters and variety of main dishes, The Huntsman’s lunch menu is predominantly divided into charcoal oven steaks and wood fired pizzas. To start we dip into a sharing starter of rosemary & garlic baked camembert served with slices of toasted sourdough and a pot of red onion chutney – an indulgent beginning that turns into a game of garlic clove Russian roulette.
Proudly stating that they handpick all their steaks from across the UK and US, that are also 28 days aged and cooked in their Josper charcoal oven, I decide on the US rib eye. Confidently listed as ‘exceptional’ and ribboned with flavoursome marbling, I feel my expectations were set too high with the grey cut I received failing to live up to its bold description. Among us we also order one of the wood fired pizzas, cooked within the pizza oven nearby. Suited to those who prefer some spice, the salami pepperoni, sweet piquante peppers, green chillies and jalapenos pizza is perfectly thin and crispy topped with an exciting splash of reds and greens; this is ordered with a bright bowl of garden salad, topped with a runny boiled egg.
Other mains include roast chicken breast baked with chantenay carrots, herbs, new potatoes, marinated mozzarella, prosciutto ham and a chicken truffle sauce. This is served wrapped within its layer of tin foil – a warming homemade touch. A pub classic, ale battered fish, triple cooked chips, sweet mushy garden peas, rapeseed mayonnaise and tartare sauce is more elegantly described than presented although hits the spot with a fitting pint of ale.
Dessert at The Huntsman is the winner. Indecisively we order the sharing platter and cheese plate for a sweet / savoury play off. Dessert lovers take note – the platter is tremendous and delightfully delicious. Moist sticky toffee pudding is set against dark, runny chocolate brownies that orbit a cloud of pavlova topped with berries. The cheese plate in comparison defeated itself against this dessert platter – something I rarely conclude with.
Address: The Huntsman of Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst Rd, Brockenhurst SO42 7RH, 01590 622225, thehuntsmanofbrockenhurst.com