Anniversary trip to the New Forest: wild ponies & Michelin stars!

I wasn’t originally planning on writing about our first time eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant. This is not a restaurant review blog, and I don’t normally write in detail about eating outside of what I cook in my own kitchen. However, as it was such a novel and unique occasion, I thought it might be fun to share.

Recently, H. and I celebrated 5 years together (!). We naturally wanted to do something to celebrate. We had a friend visiting the actual day (19th October), so we chose another weekend to go away and spent a night in the New Forest. Since we are both from small towns and now live in a massive and frequently overwhelming metropolis, our preferred getaway locations these days are usually rural and quiet!

We stayed in Brockenhurst and did a lovely 11km country hike on day 1 followed by a pub visit and then curry which hit the spot after so much walking. The next day — as our anniversary gift to ourselves — we had lunch at the Terrace restaurant.

The restaurant is part of a hotel, the Montagu Arms, and located in the tiny village of Beaulieu (side note: this Canadian has never seen a French pronunciation butchered so badly! Instead of “beau-lieu” [beautiful place], it’s pronounced “bu-leigh” locally. Ugh. Anyway!). We arrived a bit early and we were first taken into the lounge area where we started on a glass of wine, nibbles, and had our choice of the Saturday papers (although this politics student noticed an absence of the Guardian — the subject of a different post on a different blog 😉 ). When our table was ready, we were led into the main dining room, which felt bright (even though it was drizzling — a feat!), but a teensy bit more “stuffily” decorated than I anticipated. It definitely had an old world feel with wood-panelled walls, and most tables look out onto their gorgeous terrace and gardens (we took a post-lunch stroll through them, they were so impressive).

We opted for the set lunch (option 2 or 3 courses, with 3 choices for each course). The bread rolls that came out first, a mix of white, wholewheat, and fennel ones, were simply incredible — some of the best bread I’d ever tasted (H.: “make sure to write about the bread”). As a starter, H. had a smoked salmon, beet, & watercress salad and I had a potato velouté with truffle oil and chunks of Parmesan. It was rich but delicious. For my main course I had a large lobster and crab raviolo — yes, just one big raviolo, stuffed full of seafood. I wish I had a picture but felt odd taking photos of everything. It was served with a delicious buttery sauce and sauteed greens including samphire — I SO wish I’d taken a photo of our menu or written everything down afterwards as I cannot be more specific — a shame! H.’s main was braised pork belly with mashed potatoes and roasted autumn veg. It was delicious, melt-in-your-mouth meat. We were too full sephonsified to go for dessert, so left it at 2 courses.

Service was on the whole very good but slightly too attentive at times. There were many staff on hand and it felt like maybe they weren’t quite as coordinated as they could have been.

So, in sum. Was it the best meal we’ve ever had? No, I don’t think it was. But it was very good and the experience was definitely worth it. Our indulgences in life are travel and time — we do not often treat ourselves to very expensive meals so while we felt a bit of trepidation beforehand, it was a memorable meal worth treating ourselves to, and we were able to save considerably by opting for lunch over an evening meal. All in all, the weekend was a lovely way to mark 5 years together and the lunch was definitely an integral and special part of our short trip.

IMG_5882

LOVE wild ponies!!!
LOVE wild ponies!!!
Lovely 8th century church
Lovely 8th century church
This made us laugh SO much!
This made us laugh SO much!
Wine and the Sunday papers!
Wine, nibbles, and the papers!
My potato veloute
My potato veloute, with the delicious bread pictured in the background
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